The Philadelphia Phillies are not planning on trading Cliff Lee before the Tuesday trade deadline, according to sources of Jon Heyman, CBS Sports Baseball Insider.
Cliff Lee, the former Cy Young Award winner, is a key to the success of the Philadelphia rotation. Recently, the team committed to Cole Hamels with a six-year, $140 million contract.
In 2011, the team signed Lee, then a free agent, to a contract guaranteeing him about $97 million through 2015. He also has a no-trade clause to 21 teams in the MLB within his contract.
Thus far Lee has been anything but an ace in 2012. However, for having an “off year,” the southpaw hasn’t exactly fallen to pieces. His 3.95 ERA and 119:23 strikeout-to-walk ratio are not awful numbers for a starting MLB pitcher. Much of his struggles have come due to lacking run support from the Phils offense.
The logistics of moving him coupled with the decline in his play this year suggest the Phillies wouldn’t fully benefit from trading the lefty.
There’s also the matter of wild-card contention. The Phillies have seemingly played themselves out of the race for the NL East’s playoff seed, but remain only 10 games back from a wild-card berth. It seems unrealistic because of the poor play of the team thus far, but if they can get hot at the right time, they may be able to make a run at that wild-card spot.
Stranger things have happened in the MLB in September.
If they do make a run, they’re going to need Lee down the stretch. While it may have been a prominent rumor, a trade of Lee just doesn’t fit right now. Heyman’s source indicates the Phillies have no plans to move Lee during the season.
If the Phils are looking to dump salary, it would be wise to move Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence instead of a cornerstone of their pitching rotation. Lee will rebound, there’s no guarantee Victorino (free agent at the end of the year) or Pence (free agent at the end of 2013 season) will be coming back to Philadelphia.
According to these sources and conventional wisdom, they have made the right decision.
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