The best pitcher on the waiver wire is Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, and several teams could use his services as the season winds down.
The Phillies sold several key pieces at the trade deadline including Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, but Lee was the one big name that Philadelphia decided to keep for the time being. The Phillies put Lee on waivers and will now see if he is claimed or clears so that they can work out a deal for him, tweets Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan.
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
Several teams tried to trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but due to a weak market many came up short. The playoff race is still as unclear as ever and teams could improve their chances at the postseason by adding Lee to their starting rotation.
Here are five teams that should make a claim on Lee.
The Boston Red Sox have experienced issues with their starting rotation throughout the season and there doesn't seem to be an end to those issues in sight.
The consistency of each of Boston’s “regular” starters has been lacking and the injury bug keeps biting them. Boston needed to acquire a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, but just added reliever Craig Breslow.
The Breslow move does allow for Franklin Morales—who’s been a starter and reliever this season—to move back into the rotation, but now Josh Beckett is injured again and Aaron Cook isn’t improving. This leaves quite the void in the rotation that needs to step up if Boston is going to make the playoffs.
Adding Cliff Lee to the Red Sox rotation would make them very lefty heavy, but it would greatly improve the team's playoff hopes.
If Boston GM Ben Cherington wants to prove to Red Sox Nation that he’s serious about making this team a contender, he needs to claim Lee. Even if he couldn’t work out a deal for him, it would show that he’s trying.
The Arizona Diamondbacks need another starting pitcher to counter the moves made by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline.
Arizona was looking to land an ace as the deadline neared, but didn’t end up making any major moves, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal notes that he did hear rumors of a deal including Lee and Justin Upton discussed, but that never happened. The Diamondbacks have the pieces to acquire Lee, but the money would become an issue as Rosenthal points out.
Ian Kennedy and Wade Miley have been good for Arizona this season, but the team could use an improvement in any of the other three rotation spots. Trevor Cahill and prospect Tyler Skaggs looks to be a part of the long-term plan. Other than that, the Diamondbacks would be just fine without Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter or Daniel Hudson.
Arizona is very much in the wild-card race, but could fall out of it if they don’t make a move quickly. Putting a claim on Lee would put a lot of pressure on the Phillies and the Diamondbacks could have a good shot at actually getting their hands on him.
The Oakland Athletics are in a very similar situation to the aforementioned Arizona Diamondbacks. They are in a tough division where the top teams made major moves at the deadline while they stayed quiet.
The A's have been one of the best stories in Major League Baseball this season since they’re somehow contending with a roster filled of players that the average baseball fan would have no idea even existed. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick have powered the offense while Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook have been major pieces of the pitching staff.
The A’s will eventually fade, though. There’s no way that they can keep this hot streak up once they start going head-to-head against the Texas Rangers—who acquired Ryan Dempster—and the Los Angeles Angels—who acquired Zach Greinke. It just won’t happen. They need a pitcher like Cliff Lee to stay in the hunt.
Oakland traded most of its rotation from 2011 away during the offseason and has plenty of talented prospects that the Phillies could be interested in. I don’t see how you could go down the stretch and be confident by giving guys like Tommy Milone or Bartolo Colon the ball.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the most active teams toward the trade deadline as they completed deals for former Miami Marlin Hanley Ramirez and former Philadelphia Phillie Shane Victorino.
The one deal that the Dodger could not get done was one for Ryan Dempster. The need for a starting pitcher was apparent, but Los Angeles GM Ned Coletti couldn’t acquire one.
“I still think it’s a concern,” manager Don Mattingly said via MLB.com. “I think we have to pay attention and keep trying to get better. Look at the track record of [Chris] Capuano and Aaron [Harang] and obviously with Stephen [Fife] we don’t know very much. We know [Clayton] Kershaw. Does it hold up?”
The Dodgers should put a claim on Lee and dare Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro to make the call, writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. That would be a smart approach.
Although the Dodgers have one of the best lineups in the National League, will the rotation be able to step up enough to win the tight NL West? Lee would give the Dodgers two of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball and secure their playoff hopes.
There were plenty of conflicting reports on how close the New York Yankees were to acquiring Ryan Dempster as the trade deadline clock kept ticking, but it is relevant to note that they did have at least some interest in him.
The Yankees have one of the best records in baseball, but their starting rotation hasn’t been as stable as GM Brian Cashman would like, hence trying to acquire Dempster. Another reason could have been that Andy Pettitte—who suffered a minor setback during his recovery of a fractured ankle—could be out much longer than expected.
Without Pettitte, the Yankees are left with ace CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. While that isn’t a bad starting rotation, it could obviously be better. Garcia hasn’t been great this year and the Yankees would love to replace him with Cliff Lee. Lee would make the Yankees clear World Series favorites.
With such an overpowering lineup and two aces atop the New York rotation, how could the Yankees lose a series in the playoffs? New York has a handful of prospects that could go to Philadelphia in exchange for Lee and it would be set for the next several seasons.