The Phillies announced that left-hander Cliff Lee has been placed on the 60-day disabled list. Per the Phillies, surgery has been recommended for Lee, but because that route would end his 2015 season, the sides have mutually agreed to make another attempt to rehabilitate his torn left flexor tendon without surgery. Per the team’s press release:
“…The Phillies and Cliff have mutually decided to try once again to rehabilitate the injury non-operatively, with the hope that Cliff might be able to return to pitch during the 2015 season. Cliff will immediately be shut down from throwing. He will be sent home to rest and will be set up with a rehabilitation program to maintain his overall conditioning. He will be brought to Philadelphia periodically to be evaluated to determine a time at which he might be able to begin a throwing program again.”
This further casts a shadow of doubt that Lee will be able to pitch in the 2015 season. The 37-year-old is owed $25MM this season and has a $27.5MM club/vesting option for the 2015 season with a $12.5MM buyout, meaning that he is guaranteed $37.5MM before his contract expires at season’s end. (The option will not vest, as he obviously won’t reach the necessary 200 innings.)
Lee was thought of as a potential trade candidate this spring if he was able to prove his health, but instead, his elbow again flared up, and an MRI revealed that his torn flexor tendon is still not at 100 percent. Lee has tried to pitch through the pain this spring but repeatedly felt discomfort, leading to the announcement of the shut-down.
Many have speculated that Lee’s injury will hasten the Phillies’ willingness to trade Cole Hamels, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said specifically that the Lee situation will not change the team’s stance on Hamels whatsoever.