The Details Of Cliff Lee’s No-Trade Clause

Cliff Lee struggled in his first start back from the disabled list last night, allowing six runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings, and while that outing likely didn’t bolster his trade value much, his name still figures to be bandied about in the days leading up to the trade deadline (and in August, if he isn’t moved this month). Lee has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 20 clubs, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has the full details on that clause.

The nine teams to which Lee cannot block trades are the Braves, Indians, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Padres, Rays and Nationals. Should GM Ruben Amaro Jr. look to deal Lee to any of the other 20 clubs in baseball, Lee would have the ability to block the trade.

The list of teams to which Lee can be traded without his consent includes all four of Philadelphia’s division rivals (unlikely trade partners in the first place) plus a few teams that are either in states of prolonged losing/rebuilding or lack the financial wherewithal to take on Lee’s salary. In other words, Lee likely didn’t feel the need to include any of these nine in his no-trade clause, as the circumstances surrounding his current team and contract make a deal to any of the nine highly unlikely. (The Indians might be a sentimental exception to that thinking, although Lee’s salary would certainly be difficult for Cleveland to absorb.)

What Lee’s no-trade clause does do is provide him with leverage. We’ve already seen reports indicate that Marlon Byrd would approve a trade to the Mariners if they were to guarantee his third-year vesting option, and Lee could theoretically make a similar bargaining ploy to waive his own no-trade rights (that’s just my own speculation).

Of course, Lee will very likely need to convince clubs that he’s the version of Cliff Lee that everyone is used to seeing — or at least something close to it — before any team would take on a significant of his salary. As Crasnick notes, there were some positives on Monday: Lee fired a perfect first inning on nine pitches, many of the hits he gave up were “bleeders,” and he broke a few bats as well. However, one AL scout told Crasnick:

“His fastball command was off and he wasn’t nearly as precise as usual. He threw too many hittable pitches, and his overall stuff was flatter than normal. Give him another start before rushing to judgment. He threw strikes, but not with the level of precision he typically does.”

Lee is owed $9.43MM through season’s end (that number drops to $8.2MM from July 31 through season’s end), and he’s guaranteed $25MM in 2015. His $27.5MM vesting option triggers with 200 innings pitched next season, but even if he doesn’t hit that mark, it remains a club option with an incredible $12.5MM buyout. At that point, any team that controls Lee is essentially making a $14.5MM decision on whether or not to retain his services.

29 Responses to The Details Of Cliff Lee’s No-Trade Clause Leave a Reply

  1. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    Lee seems to have primarily left off clubs he knows can’t afford his contract. He will have significant leverage in any trade discussion. His no trade clause coupled with his recent injury may make him immovable.

    • Light_tower_power 1 year ago

      It is kinda funny the Mets are grouped mostly with small market teams….The Wilpon’s magic coming through

      • Phillyfan425 1 year ago

        Nah, it’s a division thing. He knows the Phillies would be hard pressed to trade him to a team within the division.

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

        It may have something to do with the fact that the Mets are spending like a small market team…. Wilpon sure is doing a good job impersonating a small market team.

    • Max Power 1 year ago

      He won’t be moved unless he wants to, so in that he way he is unmovable if he chooses. But I don’t think the injury will be a factor. He looks healthy but rusty last night – that should rectify itself.

      • Scott Berlin 1 year ago

        They can move him to a small market team if the Phillies at some contract but Amaro said he probably wont eat any. If they don’t then that alone counts out the small teams.

        • Max Power 1 year ago

          Rosenthal’s article yesterday said they would eat money. They’d be crazy not to.

          • Scott Berlin 1 year ago

            Yeah at this point they have to it would interest more teams to drive competition for a higher package return.

  2. Phillyfan425 1 year ago

    I’d have to imagine that in order to be traded to a team on his no-trade list, Cliff is going to want his 2016 option guaranteed. If that’s the case, that’s $60 M over 2.33 seasons. If the Phils ate, say $15-25 M of that, I think they could move him for some good pieces (make him about a $15-19 M AAV pitcher). Again, this is assumed he comes back looking better in his next start (honestly, I was just hoping he made it through start 1 with no pain/discomfort – start 2 is the one where I actually want to see his stuff).

    • Karkat 1 year ago

      I was pretty critical of Amaro Jr for not trading Lee at last year’s deadline, and I’m even MORE critical now. I refuse to believe they didn’t have multiple quality offers for Lee at that time, all of which will have been FAR better than the return they could get for him now.

      • Scott Berlin 1 year ago

        Last year many teams would have ate most or all of his contract and gave top prospects, at this point I doubt anyone would do either. A team may offer 2 or 3 middling prospects and eat some contract. The fact that he’s a question mark now with $48million left plus an option will leave most teams uninterested. If he was younger one might figure he could bounce back with a resilient body but at 35 it’s hard to say how long if ever he needs to get back in the groove. At this point the Phillies might as well see how he does and trade him on waivers after the deadline but they’d still be selling low.

        • stl_cards16 1 year ago

          I’m pretty sure Lee cleared waivers last August. So no team was even willing to take on his full contract, let alone part with multiple top prospects.

          Edit: I was wrong, Lee was claimed by the Dodgers last August. Still not many teams had interest in his full contract when healthy. He’ll surely be an August trade candidate this year.

      • Victoria Roberts 1 year ago

        I can’t imagine any other major market that wouldn’t have run RAJ out of town on a rail by now. General Managing through denial doesn’t seem to be a solid leadership practice.

  3. Victoria Roberts 1 year ago

    Had the Phillies moved him last season at the break, they would have gotten a haul. They may still get something for him if he pitches well in his next start. RA really dropped the ball on this one.

  4. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan 1 year ago

    Yeah, trade Lee to the Astros!
    Get the Popcorn, would I. =P

    • disadvantage 1 year ago

      I don’t know… do they have what it takes to outbid the Twins?

      Seriously though, even though Cliff Lee seems like a great guy, watching any player with loopholes in his contract get exploited would be great fun.

      • Karl Larson 1 year ago

        Contrary to popular belief, they are not a “small market team” anymore. The Twins have the money and the prospects to make the trade happen, but they are in full rebuilding mode at the moment. It’s a great pipe dream for Twins fans everywhere though.

  5. At this rate, the Phillies’ biggest deadline move should be Amaro’s termination.

    • stl_cards16 1 year ago

      Every year he makes it through is another lost year that could be spent turning the team around. They’ll need 3 years after Amaro is gone to be relevant again.

      • BusterMaloney 1 year ago

        This is only his second “lost year” so it is hardly fair to suggest this has been an ongoing issue with him.

        That said, he hardly seems like the best man for the job in Philadelphia given his years of antagonism towards advanced metrics that eventually came around to haunt him and his inability to read a market, and his poor ability to judge minor league talent.

  6. KJ4realz 1 year ago

    Honestly, if a team in the division came with a good offer of prospects, I would trade Lee to any one of them. Not really sure what anyone in the division has as I’m not too familiar with their farms, but Lee doesn’t have too many years left so it’s not like Lee pitching for a divisonal rival is going to prevent the team from going to the post season in the next two or so years.

    The team is, depending on what they can acquire in trades (money, close to mlb level specs) the team isn’t going to compete any earlier than 3 seasons from now anyway.

    Hamels is about the only player on the roster I wouldn’t want going to a rival.

  7. Karl Larson 1 year ago

    That’s not the list I would have come up with in his situation. Either the teams listed can’t afford his contract, they are rebuilding, or both. Sounds like he will stay in Philly.

    • teddy 1 year ago

      The idea is that any potential suitors that the phillies would actually trade him too, Lee has a choice of weather to approve a trade to said team or dissaprove if he does’t want to go there. So basically he can control where he goes.

    • That’s the point. He basically has a full NTC.

    • Alexander_Brovechkin 1 year ago

      Nationals could afford his contract but the Phils won’t trade him to a division rival.

  8. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    Washington is in the same division, making them a division rival, and Lee can be traded there without his consent. What is confusing about it?

  9. Kyle 1 year ago

    Oops you’re right, I misread that. Thank you.

  10. Andy 1 year ago

    Must not be too confusing because he doesn’t have consent for the Braves either.

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