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Cliff Lee Rumors
Phillies lefty Cliff Lee is "eminently available," writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Given that the 34-year-old has at least $70MM remaining on his contract through 2015, his availability has sparked a debate over his true trade value. The latest:
- The Phillies have no no obvious bidders for Lee at this point, tweets Heyman, who adds that he would be surprised to see a team give up three top prospects and take on the remaining $70MM on Lee's contract.
- The Red Sox are no longer pursuing Cliff Lee, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
- There is "very little chance" of the Phillie trading Lee, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said on MLB Network on Tuesday afternoon.
- The Red Sox feel a trade for Lee is highly unlikely, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown, but Jake Peavyand Bud Norris are still in play for them.
- The Phillies are believed to have asked for a package headed by Bogaerts and Brandon Workman, plus a big league ready outfielder, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Stark's source agrees with the consensus, that the Sox won't give up Bogaerts.
- Though the Phillies want Bogaerts as the centerpiece of a Lee deal, the Red Sox "view his inclusion as a non-starter and will not consider proposals that involve him," writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. He says the Red Sox are willing to deal multiple top ten prospects though.
- The Phillies won't settle for anything less than top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts at the head of any package for Lee, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Red Sox are the biggest player in the Lee derby, writes Heyman. "If there are other teams heavily involved in talks for Lee, they are doing it in an extremely stealthy manner," he adds.
The Phillies are willing to listen to offers on any players except Domonic Brown, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. That includes Cliff Lee, though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s preference is to hang onto him, and he'd need to be blown away to move his ace left-hander.
The Phillies view Hamels' poor season as an aberration, according to Salisbury, and their desire is for Hamels and Lee to front their rotation in 2014. Utley, of course, is said to be working on an extension with the Phillies, and Brown has emerged as the young power bat that the Phillies have hoped he could become.
Boston is currently the most interested team in Lee's services, according to Salisbury, and their interest dates back to the offseason when they were told he wasn't available. Salisbury adds that the Red Sox's reluctance to part with Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley Jr. makes it likely that Lee will likely remain with the Phillies beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Recent reports have indicated that Lee would require three or four top prospects to acquire, though at least one NL executive speculated that he did think Lee would be traded.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox continue to show interest in Michael Young, and Salisbury writes that Jonathan Papelbon is "very much available" as well. He notes that the Tigers' interest in Papelbon had cooled even before their acquisition of Jose Veras on Monday, so there may no longer be a fit between the two sides.
As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, it's been 10 years since the strangest week of Brandon Lyon's life. In 2003, the then-23-year-old Lyon was dealt by the Red Sox to the Pirates as part of a pacakage for lefty Scott Sauerbeck. The Pirates decided they weren't comfortable with the state of Lyon's elbow and sent him back to the Red Sox in a trade centering around Freddy Sanchez and Jeff Suppan just nine days later. Now with the Red Sox once again, Lyon tells Britton that he hopes to be with the big league club in the near future. Here's more on the AL East…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that as of Sunday, the Yankees had yet to receive a single trade offer for struggling right-hander Phil Hughes. That's fairly surprising, given Hughes' solid production away from Yankee Stadium (3.02 ERA in 53 2/3 innings compared to 6.02 in 58 1/3 innings at home).
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels that there may be more offense on its way to New York via the trade market before Wednesday's deadline, writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
- The Red Sox are no longer in the mix for Joe Nathan, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, but they're still prioritizing right-handed relief help. The Red Sox remain in contact with the Phillies about Michael Young but find the asking price for Cliff Lee too high, according to Bradford. The same goes for Jake Peavy of the White Sox.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com takes a look at how the Red Sox stack up in terms of starting pitching, right-handed relief and third base options.
- An NL executive that has recently spoken with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he thinks Lee will be dealt (Twitter link). That executive chose Boston as the likely destination. Martino is careful to note that it's "informed speculation" on the executive's behalf, as opposed to something that Amaro came out and said directly.
- The Red Sox and Phillies have engaged in talks for Lee and Michael Young, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but the Sox won't deal their top prospects.
- The price for Lee is extremely high, hears Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. "He's telling people it'll take you three or four best prospects, plus you'd have to take all the money," one executive said of Amaro. Another quipped, "You'd have to give up your first born, second and third born, too."
- ESPN's Jayson Stark agrees that the Phillies aren't eating any of the $70MM+ remaining on Lee's contract. Stark also hears the Phillies would need to be overwhelmed.
- The Dodgers, who claimed Lee in August last year, have not discussed a trade about him with the Phillies recently, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
Zach Links and Steve Adams contributed to this post.
"We are certainly not giving up on this season," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Having won three in a row, the Nats are seven games back in the wild card. Rizzo would like to improve his current team, but plans to avoid rentals. "I'm not concerned that we need to go out and get a starting pitcher," he added in talking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rizzo also downplayed suggestions of a rift with manager Davey Johnson, after the GM's decision to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein. More from the NL East…
- The Dodgers and Phillies have not discussed a Cliff Lee trade recently, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Though the Phillies are discussing lefty Lee with other teams, Rosenthal sees plenty of obstacles to a trade. One is his current stiff neck; it would definitely help if he jumps in to start Tuesday evening against the Giants.
- The Phillies are "marketing some players aggressively, including Michael Young," writes ESPN's Buster Olney, but not Lee or Chase Utley. Reportedly, the Phillies are currently trying to extend Utley.
- Retired closer Brad Lidge will sign a one-day contract Thursday with the Phillies and retire in their uniform, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- The Nationals do not want to part with high-end young pitchers such as A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray, and Sammy Solis, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The Phillies have reached out to other clubs to let them know that players, including MIchael Young, are available, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. However, coveted starter Cliff Lee is not among those players on the block.
Last week, GM Ruben Amaro admitted that he will be willing to listen on any player and couldn't definitively rule out trading anyone. That idea was underscored by sources telling Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that the club would listen to offers on Lee, who would completely change the landscape of available starting pitching.
Young, who is hitting .277/.342/.402 with seven homers on the year, has drawn the interest of the Rangers, Red Sox, and Orioles. According to one report last night, however, Texas is not looking to reunite with Young before Wednesday's deadline.
The Phillies have a number of attractive pieces for contending clubs, including second baseman Chase Utley and closer Jonathan Papelbon. It's not clear if they are being made available in the coming days but if they are, it would mark a change in thinking for Amaro & Co. Amaro has publicly stated his desire to see Utley play out the remainder of his career in Philadelphia and has said that developing another closer of Papelbon's caliber would take time that the club doesn't have.
The Phillies are clearly in sell mode after dropping five of six since the All-Star break, and should now begin fielding offers for Chase Utley, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News says. The oft-injured Utley can no longer man second base for a full season in the National League, but would do well in a situation where he could regularly play first and DH for an American League team, while appearing at second only occasionally, Hayes opines. Shipping Utley to another club would clear a spot for prospect Freddy Galvis, who's now in Triple-A. As Hayes notes, Utley too was once a 23-year-old prospect blocked by an aging veteran at the keystone. On to tonight's NL East links:
- Cliff Lee's best asset is his durability, as he's "never hurt" and "always goes out there," an executive tells Jayson Stark of ESPN (Twitter link). Lee, of course, offers other virtues, including a 3.05 ERA in 144 2/3 innings this year. We heard this week that the Phillies will listen to offers for their ace.
- The Braves continue to assess the cost of starting pitchers such as the White Sox's Jake Peavy and the Royals' Ervin Santana, whom they consider to be "legit upgrades," Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. However, their focus is on landing a reliever. In a second tweet, Bowman says Atlanta's deep rotation and the high price tag on starting pitching this year make it more likely that the club will acquire bullpen help and/or a backup infielder.
- Discussing potential trades, Braves GM Frank Wren says payroll isn't an issue for his club, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. "It’s going to be the talent we have to give up," Wren said.
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."
The Phillies, who lost Ben Revere for six to eight weeks over the weekend due to a broken bone in his ankle, are currently 6.5 games out of first place in the NL East. With Revere on the shelf for the foreseeable future, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is on the lookout for a center fielder. A rough couple of weeks could have the team selling pieces, however. Here's more on the Phils….
- Phillies chairman Bill Giles told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that this is the "most difficult (final) July two weeks" he has ever seen for the team. The 78-year-old Giles, who has been with the Phillies since 1969, is in particular "worried a lot" about Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley's futures. "I am rooting for Chase to be with us, I will tell you that," Giles said. "He is a quality person and has done so much for this organization."
- Utley, for his part, tells MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that he wants to remain in Philadelphia past the trade deadline and beyond. "I've never envisioned wearing another team's uniform," Utley said. "And I know there's a lot of speculation, but I still haven't….that still hasn't changed over the last month. I've talked to Ruben. I've told him what I think about the organization and city of Philly. That's kind of where we're at." Amaro recently said he hoped Utley would stay a Phillie for the remainder of his career.
- A Red Sox team source tells Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that they don't expect the Phillies to be sellers at the trade deadline since the Phils are still afloat in the NL playoff race.
- At today's All-Star festivities in New York, Cliff Lee told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that as far as he knows, he will not be traded this year.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Phillies' right-hander Luis Garcia looked the part of a big league pitcher when he made his MLB debut on Wednesday, striking out Ryan Zimmerman and getting a double-play grounder from Adam LaRoche. However, prior to this season he'd been out of organized baseball for two years, working for a moving company and in a barbershop, Todd Zolecki and Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com write. After showing the Phillies a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider, the team assigned him to their high-A club, and he's now pitching out of a major league bullpen. Some more Friday night Phillies links…
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn't expected to make drastic changes to his team as the trade deadline approaches, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Though the Phils remain under .500, the team is playing well lately, having just taken five of seven from divison rivals Washington and Atlanta. A model for the Phillies' approach to the trade market this year might be the 2007 club under GM Pat Gillick, which plugged holes by acquiring infielder Tad Iguchi and pitcher Kyle Lohse for two non-prospects. Gelb also discussed the market for Michael Young, highlighting the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Orioles as potential trade partners.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com runs down possible trade pieces for the Phillies at the deadline. From conversations with people around baseball, it would seem that Lee is staying put while rival execs see at least a small chance of Jonathan Papelbon being traded. Opinions seem to be split 50/50 on Chase Utley, though there's a strong belief that Young is a goner if they're not in position to contend. Finally, execs could see the club trading catcher Carlos Ruiz if they remain on the cusp of the race or fall further.
- The Phillies signed 11th-round pick Denton Keys to a $350K bonus (plus a $200K college scholarship) that will put them over their bonus pool and force them to pay a luxury tax, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter links). Because Callis mentions no loss of future draft picks, it seems that the Phils exceeded their pool by 0-5 percent. Any further overage would result in a loss of their 2014 first-rounder. Keys, according to Callis, is a prep left-hander from Colorado whose fastball touches 91 mph. He was committed to Kansas.