Cliff Lee Rumors
TUESDAY, 1:04pm: The Phillies have halted all trade talk involving Lee, tweets Stark.
MONDAY, 4:06pm: Philadelphia's discussions with Texas about Lee have all but ended, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (via Buster Olney on Twitter). A trade sending Lee back to Texas is "not going to happen," Stark reports (on Twitter). Such a trade would be complicated and may be easier to complete during the offseason. Talks between the Rangers and Phillies never gained momentum, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter link). The Phillies offered Texas little salary relief.
1:00pm: The Dodgers are not in on Lee, hears Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers consider Lee a long shot, while an industry source who spoke to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan puts the chances at less than one percent.
11:29am: Cliff Lee is in play in trade talks today, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Olney considers the Rangers the most logical landing spot, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post names them the frontrunners. Olney says the Yankees are not expected to be in the mix due to lack of budget space. Sherman talked to one executive who expects Lee to be dealt by this month's deadline or in the offseason, to allow the Phillies to save money and add young players. On Friday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote that the Phillies' lefty would not be traded this month.
Lee, 33, has a 3.95 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.14 HR/9, and 46.7% groundball rate in 118 1/3 innings this year. More flyballs are leaving the yard and hits are dropping in than usual so far for the southpaw. Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with the Phillies was one of the big surprises of the 2010-11 offseason. It's a severely backloaded contract, so $95MM remains through 2015 assuming Lee's 2016 option does not vest. Lee can block trades to all but eight teams. The Rangers and Yankees are among those eight, wrote Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports last Wednesday. At that time, Rosenthal and Morosi wrote that some executives expected the Phillies to consider offers for Lee this month, not long after they locked up Cole Hamels long-term.
Lee has already been involved in four blockbuster trades in his career: as a prospect in June '02 to the Indians, as an ace to the Phillies in July '09, to the Mariners in the 2009-10 offseason, and to the Rangers in July '10.
The Phillies entered this weekend needing to perform well in a critical series against the division rival Braves. Instead, they were swept and now appear to be in the position to sell off several pieces. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Phillies could be baseball's "most active sellers" in the next two days, and that they've laid the groundwork for several trades. Olney's colleague Jayson Stark hears from several teams that the Phillies could make 2-3 trades prior to Tuesday's deadline, though they've yet to officially declare themselves sellers (Twitter link).
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury agrees that selling is likely, and runs down several of the possibilities for the Phillies in the coming days. Salisbury writes that Shane Victorino is the "most likely" Phillie to be dealt, and lists the Giants, Pirates, Reds and Dodgers as possible destinations for Victorino. Interest in Victorino was said to be "heating up" as recently as yesterday.
The Reds have also inquired on Juan Pierre, and both the Orioles and Cardinals are potential destinations for Joe Blanton according to Salisbury. He also says that Hunter Pence could be moved if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is blown away by an offer, and speculates that Ty Wigginton would fit on several teams looking for bench help.
Salisbury reiterates that the Phillies are likely to keep Cliff Lee for the time being, although he could be shopped this offseason in an attempt to fill multiple holes.
Besides the Angels and Brewers themselves, perhaps no team was as impacted by the Zack Greinke trade as the Rangers. Here's the latest on the Rangers' own pursuit of Greinke and how they plan to counter the Angels' newest salvo in the battle for the AL West.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that the Rangers were the other finalist for Greinke's services. The Rangers offered Leury Garcia, Chad Bell and Justin Grimm to the Brewers.
- Had the Rangers been willing to include third base prospect Mike Olt in their offer to the Brewers, Greinke probably would've ended up in Texas, USA Today's Bob Nightengale. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, however, reports the Brewers wanted Martin Perez and didn't "insist" on Olt or Jurickson Profar, though Texas still felt the requested package of prospects was too much (both links are to Twitter).
- With Greinke gone, the Rangers won't necessarily try to acquire Josh Johnson or James Shields, a source tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Marlins and Rays have put a high price tag on their aces and the Rangers may wait to see if they lower their demands. Sullivan notes that if the Rangers weren't willing to deal the likes of Olt for Greinke, they wouldn't trade him or other top prospects for another pitcher who they didn't value as highly.
- The Rangers also valued Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee more than they did Greinke, reports Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Hamels just signed an extension to remain in Philadelphia and the Rangers shied away from the large salary still owed to Lee through the 2015 season.
- The Rangers are "unlikely" to get Johnson, while they're still in play for Shields, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
The Phillies won't trade Cliff Lee before the July 31st trade deadline, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Furthermore, the Phillies have no plan to consider trading Lee in August, when players can be dealt after being placed on waivers. Something would have to change for the team to consider trading Lee, Heyman writes.
The Rangers had been scouting Lee, and viewed him as a long-shot alternative to Zack Greinke, Josh Johnson and James Shields. The Rangers would have asked the Phillies to cover a substantial portion of Lee's salary in any trade, Heyman writes. Lee, 33, earns $25MM per season from 2013-15, so there’s a chance he’d clear waivers. His contract includes a $12.5MM buyout for a $27.5MM option in 2016.
Lee can block trades to 21 teams, but the Yankees, Braves and Marlins are not on his no-trade list, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported today (Twitter links). Phillies officials intend to build around Lee, Roy Halladay and the recently-extended Cole Hamels, Heyman reports.
The Phillies signed Cole Hamels to a historic six-year, $144MM extension this morning. After weeks of rumors, it’s now apparent that Hamels will stay put, but his teammates don’t all enjoy the same security. Here’s the latest on the Phillies...
- The Yankees considered pursuing Ty Wigginton, but the Phillies aren't offering him up, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- An American League executive suggested the Phillies' deal with Hamels means Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence are available, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).
- The Phillies have reached out to "dangle" Jimmy Rollins to other teams in the last two weeks, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The A's have considered Rollins, but he's not currently an option for them.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is waiting to determine whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter link).
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com isn't convinced the Phillies will go into complete sell mode (Twitter link).
The latest notes and rumors from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports...
- At least one team has inquired about Alfonso Soriano, Morosi reports. The Cubs outfielder earns $18MM per season through 2014, so the Cubs will presumably cover most of his salary in a trade.
- Four general managers say Cliff Lee isn’t yet formally available, according to Rosenthal and Morosi. Yet other executives expect the Phillies to consider trade offers for the left-hander this week. Lee, who has three years and $87.5MM remaining on his contract after this season, can block trades to 21 teams. The Rangers and Yankees are not among those teams, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The FOX Sports reporters suggest Rangers GM Jon Daniels prefers Lee to Cole Hamels.
- Agent Scott Boras now represents Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch, Morosi reports (on Twitter). Be sure to check MLBTR’s Agency Database for data on which agents represent which MLB players.
- The Dodgers could trade for Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence even if the team gets Ryan Dempster to go along with Hanley Ramirez, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers have been in talks with the Phillies, who are eager to move Pence, according to Rosenthal.
- The Cubs continue discussing Matt Garza with multiple suitors, Morosi reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers appear to have serious interest in Garza.
- The Royals are talking with teams about possible trades involving closer Jonathan Broxton, Morosi reports (on Twitter).
Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
- Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
- The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
- Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
- The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
- Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
- In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
- The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
- The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
- The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official.
- The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis.
There's little doubt that the Rangers are once again one of MLB's best teams -- if not the best. Texas entered Tuesday's action with the second-best winning percentage and best run differential in MLB. Now, they're looking to fortify their team for the stretch run and into the postseason, and they're armed with a wealth of prospects whom they could use to push through a blockbuster deal. Here's the latest:
Considering the Rangers' recent history in the World Series, and the fact that they're facing the very real possibility of Josh Hamilton departing as a free agent in the offseason, one AL personnel exec said he'd be shocked if Texas didn't make a move for a top-of-the-rotation starter such as Cole Hamels or Josh Johnson, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). We already heard earlier today that the Rangers would be willing to acquire Hamels without the added complication of working out a contract extension.
Similarly, the Rangers are focused on acquiring a starting pitcher, such as Hamels or Zack Greinke, who can be a "difference-maker" for them once they reach the postseason, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas won't let the prospect of losing the draft pick attached to an outgoing free agent thwart their plans to acquire such a starter, adds Sullivan. In other words, it sounds like they're fine with acquiring a rental type. One alternative, though, would be "fortifying the bullpen" and deploying Alexi Ogando as a starter.
In addition to Hamels, Greinke and Johnson, the Rangers are also "in the mix" for Rays right-hander James Shields, and they would also be interested in reacquiring Phillies lefty Cliff Lee if he's made available, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter links). The latter scenario, however, appears unlikely, Rosenthal adds.
We can't say for sure how things will shake out, but the Rangers certainly look like as strong a candidate as anyone to make a splash for one of the premium pitchers on the trade market before the deadline.
The Rangers have the second best record in baseball (55-37) while the Astros have the worst record in baseball (34-60). Here's the latest from Texas...
- The Rangers would have interest in Marco Scutaro as a utility man if the Rockies were to put him on the market, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Cliff Lee does not have the Rangers on his 21-team no-trade list according to Heyman. There is still no indication that the Phillies will move their veteran left-hander, even to free up payroll to sign Cole Hamels long-term.
- Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, J.A. Happ, and Brett Myers have all been traded already, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that it "will be a while" before the Astros deal Wandy Rodriguez (Twitter link).
- In an Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Keith Law says the two pitchers the Astros received in exchange for Myers - Matt Heidenreich and Blair Walters - "barely qualify as prospects." He says Walters has a chance as a lefty specialist.
- ESPN's Buster Olney hears from rival executives that the Astros seem to be following the old Devil Rays strategy, meaning they'll accumulate top draft picks for several years because their big league team will be so bad (Twitter link).
Here is the latest from baseball's two West divisions...
- "We have nothing significant or imminent at this time. We're just doing our due diligence," said Angels GM Jerry Dipoto to reporters (including Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times) today (Twitter link). Check out today's Angels rumors right here.
- Although he has not officially requested a trade, Nate Schierholtz indicated to Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle that he is ready to move on to a team with that can offer a greater opportunity. "There's not one thing I can't say I love about this place, but I think I've come to the realization that maybe I'm not their guy. I'm not in the cards having a future here," said the Giants outfielder.
- The Rangers are focused on Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com hears that the team's long-shot backup plan involves trading for Cliff Lee again. Lee's contract is an obstacle, plus the Phillies indicated that they're not looking to move their veteran lefty ace.
- Scott Miller of CBSSports.com hears that the Padres may keep Carlos Quentin and try to re-sign him after the season. The Reds, Indians, Pirates, and Marlins have all inquired about his availability.