Cliff Lee Rumors
Mets fans had a scare yesterday when projected Opening Day starter Jon Niese had to travel to New York to undergo an MRI after experiencing a dead arm. However, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today that the results of Niese's MRI were positive; doctors said his shoulder looked "perfect," and he will be able to resume throwing as soon as he returns to camp. Elsewhere in the NL East...
- CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes that 2014 could finally be the year that the Phillies trade Cliff Lee if they fall out of contention. Lee says that the concept of trade rumors don't matter to him: "I really don't care. There’s no sense really thinking about it. Honestly, it usually means a good thing. It means you’ve had success and other teams really want you." Lee's contract is guaranteed through the 2015 season and contains a vesting option for 2016.
- Rehabbing Phillies setup man Mike Adams threw his first bullpen of the spring today and said he felt great afterward, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Adams felt some discomfort when throwing from flat ground on monday, but the Phillies' head trainer assured him it was ok. Adams, set to earn $7MM in 2014 after missing most of 2013, said he threw at about 85 percent intensity today and could be in the Phillies' bullpen sometime in April.
- Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida spoke to Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill about his wealth of pitching prospects. Beyond Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, and Jacob Turner, the Marlins also have minor leaguers Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Adam Conley, Brad Hand and Brian Flynn. "Those guys are all starting pitchers, which is an envious position to be in," Hill said. "We're proud of our depth, happy to have it and just hopeful that they all develop into what we think they can be."
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo calls recent trade acquisition Felipe Rivero a "huge-upside left-handed starter," writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Wagner spoke with Rivero about his transition from the Rays organization to the Nationals.
The Phillies have been involved in a handful of rumors this week in Orlando, as reports surfaced suggesting that the team is open to moving Domonic Brown, as well as aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. However, it sounds like the price tags on any of those players would be extremely high, reducing the likelihood of a deal. Here's the latest on the Phillies:
- One club told Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that the possibility of attaching Brown to Jonathan Papelbon in a trade is in play for the Phillies. In that scenario, Philadephia would use the savings to pursue starting pitching help.
- Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly spoke to a few people who have "knowledge of the inner workings" of the team, and received mixed reactions on whether the Phillies would really move Lee or Hamels. One source called the rumors a "smokescreen" while another suggested the club might trade Lee, but not Hamels.
- For his part, GM Ruben Amaro called the Lee and Hamels rumors "silly," according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.
- Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com wonders if the Angels' trade of Mark Trumbo might provide a blueprint for the Phillies and Brown, considering both players are corner outfielders with big bats and limited defensive value.
- The Phillies are satisfied with their offense and aren't looking to make significant additions, but David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that everything will have to break right for it to be an impact lineup.
10:20am: ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the only way the Phillies would move Hamels or Lee would be in a "win-win" situation in which they receivea huge return and shed the entirety of the remaining salary. In other words, a trade is unlikely.
8:18am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also hears that both Philadelphia aces are in play, but the Phillies won't eat any of the remaining money on either contract (Twitter link).
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is apparently being quite open-minded at this year's Winter Meetings, as he's also said to be "actively shopping" Domonic Brown on the heels of Brown's 2013 breakout. Given the number of teams looking to acquire established pitchers, adding Hamels and/or Lee to a market that already includes David Price and Jeff Samardzija would give interested teams more options to choose from.
Hamels will be 30 at the end of this month and is guaranteed $112.5MM through the 2018 season ($22.5MM annually) with a $24MM vesting option for 2019. Though he started the season slowly, the left-hander posted a very Hamels-like 2.73 ERA from June 1 through season's end, finishing with a 3.60 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
Lee, 35, will earn $25MM in each of the next two seasons and has a $27.5MM vesting option for the 2016 campaign. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 222 2/3 innings, giving him a league-leading 6.94 K/BB ratio.
Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda hasn't decided whether he'll pitch in 2014, Anthony Rieber of New York Newsday reports (via Twitter). He might pitch in the U.S. or in Japan, and it's not impossible he could retire, either. Kuroda ranked sixth in Tim Dierkes' most recent Free Agent Power Rankings, and even though he'll turn 39 before the 2014 season starts, his ability to rack up high-quality innings makes him a valuable commodity. If he were to retire or return to Japan, that would put a significant dent in this offseason's free agent pitching market. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee plans to retire after the 2016 season, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer reports (on Sulia). Lee's contract is guaranteed through 2015, and the Phillies have an option on his services for 2016. "I'm financially able to shut it down, so… that's how I feel right now," Lee says. "But when the time comes I might look at it differently."
- The Mets will look for a veteran catcher to serve as Travis d'Arnaud's backup next season, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets. Adding a veteran would also insure the Mets against the possibility that d'Arnaud gets hurt, Rubin notes. In mid-August, d'Arnaud took over for John Buck as the Mets' starting catcher.
- The Blue Jays' disappointing season has left them well outside the playoff picture, but that doesn't mean their final series against the Rays is irrelevant, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes. Right now, the Jays have baseball's seventh-worst record, tied with the Phillies, Rockies and Brewers. They're currently one game worse than the Mets and two worse than the Giants. That's significant, Chisholm points out, because the top ten picks in the draft are protected, meaning that if the Jays finish with one of baseball's ten worst records, they'll be able to pursue free agents who have been extended qualifying offers, and they won't have to worry about losing their first-round pick if they sign one. For example, the Indians had a protected first-round pick last season, which allowed them to keep the No. 5 overall pick (which they used on Clint Frazier) even after they signed Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. The Indians did sacrifice their second-round and Competitive Balance Round B picks.
In reality, the Red Sox were a "non factor" for Cliff Lee before they landed Jake Peavy, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Will he get moved today to another club? Baseball people are highly doubtful anyone would meet the supposed Phillies' asking price of three top prospects for a pitcher who has $70MM left on his deal through 2015. "I don't know of a team in baseball that would [do] that. Taking on that much money and giving up three legit prospects seems like a stretch for anyone," one exec said. Here's more from around baseball as we approach the 3pm central deadline..
- The A's are still pursuing bullpen depth, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.
- Teams that have spoken with the Phillies say they're not upbeat about making any deals today, tweets ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Michael Young is still in play, but there's no clear destination for the third baseman.
- The Cardinals are leaning towards standing pat at the deadline unless there is a last minute drastic change, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays have been looking into at least one more potential deal, presumably to add a bat. Tampa Bay made a splash earlier this week when they landed Jesse Crain in a swap with the White Sox.
- The Yankees were mainly working on smaller acquisitions like Alberto Callaspo this week and didn't have any interest in Alex Rios once they landed Alfonso Soriano, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Callaspo wound up going from the Halos to the A's.
- The Marlins don't expect to do much today and plan to keep Chad Qualls, Justin Ruggiano, and other trade chips if they can't get good value in return, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins are gauging interest in Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- The Royals' search for a second baseman continues, but they don't appear to be close on anything at the moment, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. “Anything’s possible,” one club official said. “We looking at a lot of things, but I doubt anything get done unless things change in the last few hours.”
- The Indians got the left-handed reliever they needed yesterday in Marc Rzepczynski and would still be open to a rotation upgrade, but they don't like the price so far, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). For now, the Tribe is prepared to stand pat.
- There are a lot of present and veteran Braves who think the club is making a serious mistake by allowing Brian McCann hit the open market at the end of the season, writes Peter Gammons at GammonsDaily.com. "Only the people around the team understand what he means to that pitching staff. He’s a star player in the team concept,” said David Ross of McCann, who also leads the team with a .884 OPS.
- Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com spoke with Nationals players to get their take on the trade deadline. Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche have both been involved in multiple deadline deals.
Driving home the recent vibe, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM says Phillies lefty Cliff Lee is not getting traded today. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday there was "very little chance" of him trading Lee. With the Red Sox having acquired Jake Peavy, there are no clear suitors anyway.
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.