Cliff Lee Rumors
After receiving his work visa, former star closer Francisco Rodriguez is set to begin his comeback with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. Rodriguez had been working out in extended spring training while waiting for the visa. The Brewers signed Rodriguez to a minor-league deal in mid-April. They have until May 17 to decide whether to promote him or allow him to become a free agent. Rodriguez appeared in 78 games for the Brewers in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- If the struggling Phillies don't move up in the standings, they could be very active on the trade market in July, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes. Chase Utley, Michael Young and Delmon Young are all free agents after the season, Castrovince notes, and there's also the possibility the Phillies could begin trade talks involving Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins or Jonathan Papelbon. If the Phillies begin trading stars, Castrovince says, it's unlikely manager Charlie Manuel will return next season. "I don't envy any GM, especially on a big-market team, because you have to compete and you have to attract those big names or not let them leave," says Cole Hamels. "When you're not winning, you're always going to chase it until you win again and can breathe a little bit."
- Lee, in particular, could be on the move if the Phillies falter, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Martino quotes an executive from another team who says, "If they're not in it, you think [Ruben Amaro Jr.] won't move Lee again?" Martino notes that Lee's contract (the Phillies owe him a minimum of $62.5MM after 2013) could make a trade tricky, however.
- The Orioles could designate utilityman Yamaico Navarro for assignment when Freddy Garcia is added to the roster Saturday, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff speculates (on Twitter). Other possibilities for opening a roster spot involve sending Taylor Teagarden or Brian Roberts to the 60-day DL. Navarro is hitting .276/.359/.434 for Triple-A Norfolk.
Here's the latest on Philadelphia's offseason dealings, courtesy of CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury...
- Before the Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Twins, they attempted to also get Josh Willingham in either the same trade package or in a separate deal.
- The club is still in the market for a corner outfielder. The Phillies "have seriously considered" signing Ichiro Suzuki and "have long liked" Cody Ross.
- Any further upgrades may have to come via the free agency market since the Phillies don't have much prospect depth aside from possibly at catcher. Salisbury notes that Tommy Joseph, the most well-regarded of the team's young catchers, "probably isn't going anywhere."
- The Red Sox approached the Phillies about a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies said that Lee wasn't available. I can't blame the Phils for turning that offer down; even if they did want to move Lee, he would fetch far more on the trade market than just one year of Ellsbury, who hits free agency next winter.
4:08pm: Putting the nail in the coffin on this one...Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. labeled the Upton-Lee rumor false, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
3:56pm: Sources tell both Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the D-Backs and Phillies aren't actively discussing an Upton/Lee deal (Twitter links). The report is "off base," a D-Backs source tells Piecoro.
3:49pm: The Diamondbacks and Philles are discussing a trade that would send Justin Upton to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Arizona, according to Pedro Gomez of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The proposed deal would also include cash heading to the D-Backs, says Gomez.
Due $25MM in each of the next three seasons, along with a $12.5MM buyout on a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016, Lee is on the books for significantly more money than Upton, so there would need to be more parts involved to make it worthwhile for Arizona. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), the D-Backs all exploring all sorts of three- or four-way trades in an effort to get a shortstop, meaning a deal built around Upton and Lee could be "just the start."
Ned Colletti says the Dodgers’ new ownership group has encouraged bold midseason deals, even if the moves require cash, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Though the Dodgers have no intention of being reckless, they won’t hesitate to make moves that improve their roster, as evidenced by their flurry of midseason additions and waiver claim on well-compensated left-hander Cliff Lee. Here are some highlights from Heyman’s article:
- Though player salaries matter to any GM, they are not the most important variable in Los Angeles. "We're back to thinking about players in a baseball context," Colletti said. "Salary is part of the checklist. But it's not necessarily an obstacle."
- The Dodgers attempted to trade for Lee after claiming him, making the Phillies multiple offers before being shut down quickly. The Phillies would only have considered trades if they got significant MLB players in return, plus complete salary relief.
- Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says he intends to build around Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. "We feel like we have a better chance of being a championship club with those three guys at the top of the rotation," Amaro said.
- The Dodgers inquired on Adrian Gonzalez, but "it takes two to make a deal," one Red Sox person told Heyman.
The Blue Jays announced that right-handers Drew Hutchison (Tommy John surgery) and Dustin McGowan (arthroscopic shoulder surgery) will undergo operations on Thursday. Hutchison is expected to return within a year or so, but no timetable is listed for McGowan, who had previous shoulder surgeries in 2008 and 2010. Here are some more notes pertaining to MLB pitchers...
- The Phillies didn’t intend to trade Cliff Lee when the Dodgers claimed him on waivers, but the left-hander could have blocked a move to Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers are one of the 21 teams on Lee’s no-trade list.
- Matt Garza has a stress reaction in the back of his pitching elbow and has been shut down indefinitely, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Garza, who hasn’t pitched since July 21st, could miss the remainder of the season. If he doesn’t return this year, it’ll affect his offseason trade value. However, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has said he expects the right-hander to be in Chicago’s 2013 rotation.
- The Rangers need all the pitching they can get, but they don’t need distractions from Roy Oswalt, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. It’s not yet time to release Oswalt, who isn’t pleased with his current role, Morosi adds.
Cliff Lee will remain a Phillie as the window on the Dodgers' waiver claim closed today. Lee responded by allowing three home runs in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks this afternoon. When asked by Zach Links yesterday, 68% of MLBTR readers thought the Phillies should have let Lee go. But, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com outlines two scenarios explaining why the Phillies held onto Lee. In other news involving teams from the NL West:
- The Dodgers have been busy wheeling and dealing the past week turning over 20% of their roster with their recent trade acquisitions. Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes about how the Dodgers are being forced to mesh and develop its own chemistry in the season’s final two months while battling for a playoff spot.
- The Rockies rearranged the duties of General Manager Dan O'Dowd and Assistant GM Bill Geivett this past week, but the Denver Post's Troy Renck believes the switch seems convoluted unless it leads to a major overhaul in personnel, especially in the drafting and development of better starting pitching.
- The Rockies placed struggling left-hander Jonathan Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with left bicep tendinitis. Sanchez was acquired from the Royals for Jeremy Guthrie last month, but Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area tweets the real get for Colorado was salary relief to the tune of $1.1MM.
Last night, the Dodgers were awarded claiming rights on Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee after the nine other National League clubs with worse records declined. By claiming Lee, the Dodgers opened themselves up to the possibility of either trading for the left-hander or being assigned his contract which would saddle them with roughly $95MM in future commitments. The struggling Phillies could help kickstart their rebuilding effort and slim down their bloated payroll by letting Lee go out west, but as it stands it doesn't seem like Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to consider it. "It's irrelevant. [Lee] is not going anywhere," said the GM.
It's not hard to understand why the Phillies would be reluctant to let Lee go. The soon-to-be 34-year-old has been a bright spot for the club this year, posting a 3.73 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 18 starts. While his performance may not put him near the top in Cy Young voting this year as it did in 2011, there's no denying that Lee is still going strong and could help anchor the Phillies' rotation in 2013 and beyond.
However, Lee's contract calls for him to make $21.5MM in 2012 and $25MM per season through 2015. The committment could also extend through 2016 as he has a $27.5MM vesting option with a $12.5MM buyout. The Phillies stretched their payroll to retain Cole Hamels to a six-year (or, potentially seven-year) extension and wiping Lee's salary from the books would help restore some flexibility.
8:43pm: Ruben Amaro didn't confirm or deny the reports of the Dodgers' claim on Lee to the media (including MLB.com's Paul Hagen) but said "It's irrelevant. [Lee] is not going anywhere."
5:16pm: The Dodgers were awarded Lee's claiming rights, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. This means that all NL teams with a record worse than the Dodgers' 56-50 mark (every NL team except the Reds, Nationals, Pirates, Braves, Giants and Cardinals) first passed on Lee.
5:06pm: The Phillies don't see a trade as very likely, reports Jon Heyman. The Phils also aren't likely to just let Lee leave to the claiming team without getting anything back in return.
3:46pm: Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee has been claimed on waivers, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Phillies can now pull Lee back off of waivers, assign his contract to the team that won the claim, or work a trade out with the claiming team. Lee can block trades and claims to 21 teams, which could limit the Phillies' flexibility, depending on the identity of the claiming team.
The team(s) that claimed Lee showed a willingness to take on approximately $95MM in future commitments. Lee earns $21.5MM in 2012 and $25MM per season through 2015. His contract includes a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5MM buyout. If the Phillies can assign Lee to the claiming team without his permission, they will now have to decide whether they value Lee's performance more than the flexibility they'd obtain by letting him go. If multiple teams claimed Lee, National League teams have priority over American League teams.
Lee, who turns 34 this month, has a 3.73 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings so far this year. He has averaged seven innings per start and contributed 2.7 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Daniel Straily will make his Major League debut tonight in Oakland, starting for the A's against the Blue Jays. Straily was an unheralded minor league arm heading into 2012 but exploded to lead the minor leagues with 175 strikeouts in 138 1/3 combined innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, plus a 2.60 ERA and a 4.73 K/BB ratio.
Here are some more items from around the AL West...
- The Mariners weren't eager to move Kevin Millwood at the trade deadline and put a "very high price tag" on the veteran starter, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- Though the Rangers asked the Phillies about Cliff Lee before the trade deadline, Texas didn't put in a waiver claim on the left-hander, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Dodgers were awarded the claim on Lee earlier today. Lee would've had to pass unclaimed through every NL team and every AL team except the Yankees for Texas to win their claim, had they submitted one.
- With Kurt Suzuki now in Washington, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks the Athletics could be in the market for a veteran catcher. Slusser (Twitter links) suggests the A's could look at the likes of Yorvit Torrealba and Ramon Hernandez in waiver deals, as catchers are easier to find right now than shortstops, another of Oakland's needs.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the latest on a pair of August trade candidates...
- MLB executives say they don’t expect Cliff Lee to be claimed by this afternoon, the deadline for clubs to submit a waiver claim on the left-hander. However, one AL exec said someone might claim him since many teams are short on pitching. The Dodgers seem like the most likely candidate to claim Lee, according to the executives Heyman surveyed.
- Lee could prevent the Phillies from assigning his contract to any one of the 21 teams on his no-trade list if he is claimed on waivers, Heyman adds. Approximately 59% of 12,000 MLBTR readers expect Lee to be claimed.
- The Yankees agreed to pay the Marlins $1MM in exchange for Carlos Lee before the trade deadline, but Lee blocked the deal as Jayson Stark reported this week. The Marlins tried to get $2.5MM from the Orioles for Lee, Heyman reports. However, the Orioles declined the offer (it’s unclear if the Orioles are on Lee’s 14-team no-trade list).
- The Astros are paying Lee all but the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary, so the Marlins would have turned a profit had they completed a deal with either AL East team. Lee, who is now on waivers, could be traded in August.