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.