The Phillies will listen to offers on starting pitcher Cliff Lee, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports. It doesn't sound like GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is in any rush to move Lee, however. "Although we don't have any desire to move a guy like that because we view him as someone who will be key to our future, I am a businessperson as well and I'll be a good listener," Amaro says. There's another Lee-related story line to watch as we approach the trade deadline — as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes (via Twitter), Lee has been scratched from his start on Saturday due to a stiff neck.
If the Phillies were to become more receptive to moving Lee, it would mark a dramatic change in the trade market for starting pitching. With the Cubs having found a new home for Matt Garza in Texas, some of the top potential trade targets remaining include Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Bud Norris and Yovani Gallardo, and it's far from certain that all those players will be dealt.
As Crasnick suggests, Lee's contract will be an obstacle for potential suitors, particularly those with smaller payrolls. Lee has a salary of $25MM this season, and is owed $25MM per season for both 2014 and 2015. He has a $27.5MM club option for 2016 with a $12.5MM buyout. He has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to decline trades to 21 teams. Lee, 34, has a 3.05 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this season.
The Phillies have lost five in a row, and their chances of making the playoffs are remote — they're eight games back in the NL East, and 9.5 games back in the NL Wild Card chase. But Amaro still sounds noncommital about selling at the deadline, even if he's potentially open to it. "I can't sit here and say I'm not going to trade Chase (Utley), or Cliff, or Michael Young or Chooch (Carlos Ruiz), or any of these guys," he says. "Some guys are less tradeable than others. But I think I owe it to us as an organization to listen."