Based on comments Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it appears the team would not be inclined to take on money in the unlikely event they trade expensive pitchers Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon. Asked about eating money to ensure the highest return in a trade, Amaro said:
"That's usually the case with most deals in this era. In the cases of the players rumored out there, like the Lees and Papelbons, taking back money is not going to be an issue because the talent is too high. That's not going to be debilitating for anybody. The teams who would be interested would be willing to take on the dollars associated with it. Particularly in those deals – I don't anticipate doing those – but it's about making baseball deals, not monetary deals. I haven't been mandated to go and shed payroll. I've never had that mandate."
Lee will be owed over $70MM through 2015 at the trade deadline, while Papelbon will have over $30MM through 2015 remaining (more if his 2016 option vests). Having dropped their last two contests, the Phillies sit at 9.5 games out in the NL East and eight back in the wild card. As Gelb explains, the team can afford to wait until the end of the month.