It seems like just a few days ago when the Philadelphia Phillies had decided not to shop Cliff Lee at this season’s trade deadline.
Oh, that’s right. According to a recent article by Jon Heyman on CBSSports.com, it was just a few days ago.
However, with less than two days to go until the non-waiver trade deadline, Lee’s future with the Phillies is at least a little less certain.
Following the recent six-year contract extension signed by Cole Hamels, the Phillies are set to pay three starting pitchers more than $60 million next season, while likely exceeding the luxury tax threshold both this season and next.
Lee, whose salary is soon to increase to $25 million per year, could be moved so as to free up money to find players for third base, left field, center field and the bullpen.
Although Lee is just 1-6 this season with a 3.95 ERA, he is still just one season removed from finishing third in National League Cy Young voting.
Lee is owed nearly $98 million for the remainder of his contract. Would a team such as the Rangers be willing to pay most of it? How much of Lee’s salary would they ask the Phillies to pay?
Blanton is 8-9 with 115 strikeouts and a 4.59 ERA this season. Despite the high ERA, Blanton has walked just 18 batters this season and has pitched two complete games.
Would the Orioles be willing to take on Blanton’s salary for the remainder of the season in hopes of claiming a wild-card spot in the American League?
Furthermore, would the Phillies trade two members of their starting rotation this close to the trade deadline?
Trading one pitcher would give the Phils the option to call up Tyler Cloyd from Triple-A.
Cloyd has gone 10-1 with 73 strikeouts and a 1.98 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A this season. Combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Cloyd is 13-1 with a 1.94 ERA and has held opponents to a .218 batting average this season.
Even if the Phillies do not move a starter at the deadline, Blanton’s free agency means the team will need at least one new starter in the rotation next season.
After going 1-4 with a 6.96 ERA in six starts in June, Kyle Kendrick may be better suited for the bullpen.
Calling up Cloyd will allow the Phils a glimpse into what their rotation could look like next season. If Cloyd pitches well, the Phillies’ rotation could be set as long as only one starter is traded at the deadline. If he struggles, finding another starter could be added to the team’s offseason task list.
Blanton may be the more likely of the two current Phillies starters to be traded prior to the deadline, but freeing up payroll heading into the offseason could give the team more flexibility when it comes to mapping out the offseason strategy.
Trading Lee this close to the deadline, however, could be a risky move. Trading a player such as Lee could cut payroll, improve the farm system and even help the Phils acquire current major league contributors.
However, rushing such a move could also be detrimental if the right deal is not reached.
With less than two days to go until the trade deadline, the Phillies are seemingly exploring all options.