Boston Red Sox and 5 Best Possible Trade Destinations for Cliff Lee
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee was masterful in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. Is it possible he could be just as dominant pitching for the Red Sox in the near future?
It's certainly a possibility. But there's also the chance that Lee could be moved elsewhere as well. The Red Sox would be an intriguing option. Dan Duquette Jr. approached that question on NESN.com.
Lee stymied the Sox, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out eight batters in eight innings to earn his sixth win of the season. The outing dropped his ERA to 2.34.
Last year, the Phillies moved players at the deadline and could well do the same if in a similar position this season. With the remaining dollars left on Lee's contract, he would obviously free up payroll for Philadelphia and give general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. more flexibility for the future.
If the Phillies are so inclined to be sellers at the trade deadline, here are five teams who would definitely have interest in Cliff Lee's services.
Boston Red Sox
As mentioned in our introduction, the Boston Red Sox could absolutely be a player in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.
According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the Sox inquired about Lee's availability during the winter meetings last December. So their interest in Lee has some history behind it.
Beyond Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the Sox rotation is somewhat shaky. Ryan Dempster has been inconsistent this season, posting a 2-6 record and a 4.45 ERA. John Lackey has been solid of late (3-4 with a 2.72 ERA), but Felix Doubront has struggled as the No. 5 starter with a 5.29 ERA.
With a very real opportunity to take the AL East, the Red Sox have both the payroll flexibility and the need. Working out the return package, however, is another matter entirely.
The Phillies will likely ask about several Red Sox prospects—Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley Jr.—that the Sox will be unwilling to part with. It will take some creativity on the part of general manager Ben Cherington to make this deal palatable for the Phillies.
Cliff Lee was a major contributor down the stretch and in the postseason for the Texas Rangers in 2010. It's entirely possible he could be a factor for them again in 2013. Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is one who believes that Texas is a leading contender for Lee's services.
While Yu Darvish has established himself as the ace for the Rangers, they still have rotation issues. Matt Harrison isn't expected back until August at the earliest after undergoing additional surgery to alleviate an issue with a herniated disc in his back. Alexi Ogando went on the disabled list two weeks ago with biceps tendinitis. He looked strong in a bullpen session on Monday, but will likely need at least one rehab start before he returns.
The Rangers have relied on Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch, both of whom have been at least serviceable at the back end of the rotation. Martin Perez made his first start of the season on Monday as well, but his effectiveness moving forward is a concern.
At some point the Rangers will welcome back Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz from injuries, but at this point there's no timetable on their returns.
Lee would instantly help stabilize the Rangers rotation and make them a bigger force than they already are in the America League.
Is it possible the Cleveland Indians could welcome Cliff Lee back home?
Why not? Lee starred in Cleveland for the first seven-plus years of his career, winning his lone Cy Young Award there in 2008.
With the Tribe very much in the AL Central race currently, they're certainly in a position to contend for a postseason berth. The 4.45 ERA from the starting rotation isn't terrible, ranked eighth in the American League.
But beyond Justin Masterson, the Indians simply don't have another starter they can truly rely on as a stopper.
The biggest issue here is obviously money. With Lee owed at least $62.5 million beyond this season (including the $12.5 million club buyout option for 2016's $27.5 million), the Indians would be severely challenged to bring Lee aboard. There would have to be much help coming in the form of additional cash for this trade proposal to even have a ghost of a chance.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently in last place in the NL West, and they've got more than enough on their plate to handle right now.
It's certainly premature and a major assumption to think the Dodgers turn things around and become contenders before the trade deadline. But, if that happens, they absolutely can't be counted out in any trade speculation revolving around Cliff Lee.
Back in April, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com brought up the Dodgers as a likely destination should the Phillies make Lee available.
The Dodgers made a waiver claim for Lee last August before the Phillies pulled him back, so interest was certainly established at that point. Not to mention they can take on Lee's salary without batting an eye. Lee also has a 0.77 ERA in three starts at Dodger Stadium.
San Francisco Giants
With the broken hand suffered by Ryan Vogelsong last week, the San Francisco Giants could become a suitor for Cliff Lee.
The Giants are in a fight at the top of the NL West with the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
San Francisco's 4.76 ERA from the starters is in stark contrast to what the rotation has delivered over the past several seasons as well.
Andrew Baggerly of CSNBayArea.com suggests that the Giants indeed could be interested in Lee. With an overall lack of depth in major league-ready starters in the system, general manager Brian Sabean could be calling Philly to start the discussion.
A rotation featuring Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Lee would be a scary thought. And we're not even talking about two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who's been hit-or-miss all season thus far.
Despite their lack of starting prospects, the Giants are a team that can take on additional salary and have pieces the Phillies would certainly be interested in acquiring.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.