MLB Trade Speculation: Cliff Lee Put on Waivers, Should the Yankees Try for Him?

Doug RushSenior Analyst IAugust 2, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 24: Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during game two of an interleague game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park on June 24, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Last month during the trade deadline, I gauged everyone's interest regarding Cliff Lee.

In a story I did last month, I debated on whether the Yankees should consider trading for him, which would have involved giving up prospects.

In a poll I posted that 2,022 people voted on, 54 percent of you were all for the Yankees trying to make a deal for Lee.

The Phillies decided not to trade their lefty veteran at the deadline and hung onto him for now.

But on Wednesday, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Philadelphia placed Lee on waivers.

Source: Phillies have placed Cliff Lee on waivers. Executives expect him to clear Friday afternoon, be eligible for trade.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2012

Teams have two days if they want to put in a claim on Lee, but because of his large salary, he should clear waivers, which would allow him to be traded anywhere.

Lee can block a trade to 21 teams as part of his no-trade clause. However, the Yankees are not one of the teams that he can block a trade to if the Phillies decided to make a deal with them.

The Yankees have always had interest in Lee in the past, as they have tried twice to trade for him and nearly pulled the trigger on a deal two years ago at the trade deadline. After that failed, the Yankees went all in to persuade Lee to come to the Bronx as a free agent, but the Phillies swooped in the back door and brought Lee back to Philadelphia.

Lee felt the Yankees were getting too old and the Phillies at the time had the best chance of winning multiple championships.

Two years later, the Yankees are still competing for a playoff spot, while the Phillies are in last place, rebuilding and just completed a mini fire-sale.

Lee is 2-6 with a 3.73 ERA with 119 strikeouts and 125.1 innings in 18 starts and is having one of the worst years in his career, part of which is due to lack of run support.

Why should the Yankees show interest in the soon-to-be 34-year old Lee?

For one, the Yankees' rotation right now hasn't been as strong as it was back in June.

CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes all have at least 10 wins, but the Yankees can't have them all wear down by the time September and October roll around.

The injury to Andy Pettitte is also another factor. He's not due back until September while recovering from a broken ankle, and if there are any major setbacks in his rehab, then the Yankees' rotation is in serious trouble.

Adding Lee would put the Yankees' rotation over the top for October. At least, I think it would.

Having Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte and then Lee would make for a really great rotation heading into October.

And the best part of it is if the Yankees really wanted to get Lee, the Phillies wouldn't be making a crazy demand for prospects like Manny Banuelos or Mason Williams.

If anything, the Yankees and Phillies would have to negotiate on how much each party would want to take on in Lee's deal, which has three years left and roughly around $75 million.

OK, yes, the Yankee have a desire to get down to the $189 million point in payroll before the 2014 season, and they still have Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin they have to figure out extensions for.

But winning a championship is the ultimate bottom line, and winning a World Series is going to bring in a lot more revenue for the Yankees, especially for playoff tickets and merchandise alone.

We all know Yankees GM Brian Cashman is very particular when it comes to making a trade. He thought about making a deal for Ryan Dempster last week before the Texas Rangers swooped in and landed him.

Landing Lee would be a bold move that would change the landscape of the playoffs, especially for the Yankees.

Some people might consider the Rangers to be the favorites in the American League considering they are the back-to-back American League champions.

I think Lee can help this rotation, and if they can get the Phillies to help out in paying part of his salary, then the Yankees benefit with the talent and money.

The only question now is, does Cashman still have interest in Lee, and if he does, would he dare make the move to get him?

Cashman has between now and August 31 to decide that.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.