Cliff Lee has been heavily talked about in trade rumors, but now it might be a while before the Phillies can find a deal for him. Earlier today, the Phillies announced to the press that the veteran is once again dealing with a sore elbow.
The Phillies, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets, were probably more motivated to deal Lee than any other player this spring. Now, they’ll have to wait until Lee has a clean bill of health to find a taker.
“It will take a couple of days to get the fluid out of the area from the MRI and Cliff will likely begin to throw again on Monday. He will progress his throwing program as tolerated. He will not make his scheduled start on Tuesday and his next start is TBD,” GM Ruben Amaro said in the release. “In the meantime we will have the MRI read as a second opinion by Dr. James Andrews. He will likely see the images on Monday or Tuesday. We will determine Cliff’s continued progressions accordingly.”
Lee battled elbow soreness last year and made just 13 starts in 2014 as a result. Amaro told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (on Twitter), that Lee’s MRI showed an issue with his flexor pronator – previously the culprit of his elbow soreness – and not his UCL. Amaro says that if Lee undergoes surgery for the issue, it will take him out of action for 6-8 months, according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.
Late last month, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Rangers and Padres were among the teams to at least “kick the tires” on Lee earlier this winter. Since their inquiries, however, the Padres added James Shields and the Rangers also added to their pitching depth. Heyman speculated that Boston could be a logical landing spot for Lee, but there are no indications that the two sides discussed him.
Lee is owed $25MM for the coming season and can be controlled for another year through a $27.5MM option that comes with a hefty $12.5MM buyout. Prior to his elbow acting up in 2014, Lee boasted a streak of six straight seasons with 200+ innings. Over that stretch, he carried a 2.89 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. The 36-year-old (37 in August) has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to twenty teams per year.