Cliff Lee: Why Phillies Must Allow the LA Dodgers to Claim Star Pitcher

Chris HummerAnalyst IAugust 4, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 24: Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park on July 24, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Cliff Lee has been claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now the Phillies must allow their star lefty to walk for the sake of financial flexibility.  

According to a report from CBS, the Dodgers claimed Lee off of Waivers on Saturday. However, according to Jayson Stark, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says "he isn't going anywhere."

This may sound good to Phillies fans, but it’s terrible for the long term.

A Lee trade would've allowed Philadelphia to shed the $95 million remaining on his contract, while also restocking the farm system.

Even if the Dodgers declined to trade for the lefty, just letting him go would've allowed the team some much needed financial flexibility—the Phillies have the second highest payroll in MLB.

With the recent re-signing of Cole Hamels, Philadelphia now has four players making over $20 million a season—an outrageous total considering that the Phillies sit 13.5 games behind the first-place Nationals in the NL East.

The Phillies started to reload at the deadline when they dealt the expiring contracts of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, and it would be in their best interest to continue the firesale.

They are in no position to contend this season, and considering the way their aging high-dollar players are playing on the offensive side of the ball, it's not likely to get better any time soon.

It may not be the most attractive option, but the Phillies must start to rework their roster to encourage flexibility.

They can't continue to spend $200 million a year and finish in last place. It's just not a good business model.

Letting go of a player of Lee's caliber is tough, but it's the right move for next season and beyond.