Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro is asking for the world in return for his star left-hander, Cliff Lee—and he’s not that crazy.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting it will take three or four top prospects in order to land Lee from the Phillies. An executive told the scribe, "You’d have to give up your first born, second and third born, too.”
I don’t think anyone is actually going to be trading family members, but that’s a lot of talent in terms of prospects.
Will the Phillies trade Lee?
The Phillies have been horrible in the last week or so—as they’ve dropped eight straight entering Tuesday—and Heyman believes that could be the reason the team is at least fielding calls on the starter. Lee is 10-4 on the year with a 3.05 ERA through 20 starts, and has 131 strikeouts and 22 walks in 144.2 innings of work.
One of the problems with acquiring Lee is that not only will the team getting him be losing several top prospects, but they’ll also be paying him the remainder of his contract. The lefty is owed the remainder of $25 million this season and the same amount in the next two years. There’s a $27.5 million club option for 2016 and a $12.5 million buyout.
That’s quite the price to land him, but would it be worth it?
This is a guy who is rarely hurt and is also one of the most reliable pitchers in the game. He’s made at least 20 starts in 10 straight seasons and has won double-digit games eight times in his career. He’s also basically a Cy Young candidate every season, and that’s tough to put a price on—although it appears Amaro has done it.
Will Amaro be able to get three or four top prospects and have another team take Lee’s contract off his hands? Some organization is probably willing to make that deal happen, but at the moment, it doesn’t seem likely. Expect to see Lee pitching for the Phillies for the remainder of the season.
Aside from Lee, here’s a look at the rumors surrounding other players who could get dealt before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels
Entering Monday, the Angels were eight games under .500 and 13 games behind the Athletics in the AL West. With Albert Pujols likely out for the remainder of the season, according to the Associated Press (h/t USA Today), and a variety of other things going wrong in Los Angeles, the team appears ready to sell.
Erick Aybar is one player who could be dealt, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
Angels are now 13 games back and open for business. Sources say they're willing to listen on Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and plenty more.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 29, 2013
The shortstop has been solid for the Angels this season, as he’s hitting .283/.310/.389 through 81 games. Aybar has hit four home runs, driven in 37 runs and scored 36 times. He also has five steals, 15 doubles and three triples. He hasn’t been stellar defensively—eight errors—but is usually a good overall player.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the idea would be to ship off Aybar—knowing the team doesn’t really have a backup—in exchange for a pitcher or two. The scribe names the Cardinals as a potential fit, and there’s no doubt about that. St. Louis could really use an upgrade over Pete Kozma for the last stretch of 2013.
Kozma is the better defensive player, but he really struggles at the plate. Through 94 games this season, he’s hitting .243/.286/.304 with one home run and 31 RBI. He’s seen a lot of playing time in recent months because Rafael Furcal hasn’t been healthy enough to take the field.
Maybe St. Louis would be willing to give up a pitcher or two to get Aybar from L.A.
Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox
While teams may be willing to pay a lot to acquire a player like Lee, it doesn’t seem like franchises want to pay a lot for a player like Alex Rios.
Here’s what Jayson Stark of ESPN is saying about what Chicago is asking for the outfielder and what might happen as the trade deadline nears: "Teams in touch with the White Sox report they’ve asked for two top prospects, plus a 'lesser' player, for Rios, without much luck. So at this point, it wouldn't be a shock to see the White Sox pull Rios back and put him on the market again this winter."
General manager Rick Hahn definitely has his hopes up.
Dealing two prospects and another player to land Rios is a bit much for a guy who has been just fine this year. He hasn't been bad, but he’s not one of the top players in the league either. Through 100 games, he’s hitting .272/.325/.427 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI. He has good speed, as he’s stolen 22 bags this season.
Rios could be valuable to a team looking to add a right-handed bat who can play the outfield, but the asking price has to come down for a deal to happen. A team would have to be extremely desperate in order to let three players—two being top prospects—go to get him on the active roster.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 28. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.