According to sources, Philadelphia has received offers from "multiple teams" for Lee, as noted by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. responded to those inquiries, per Crasnick:
I never put any real absolutes on anything. Although we don't have any desire to move a guy like that because we view him as someone who will be key to our future, I am a businessperson, as well, and I'll be a good listener.
Amaro knows how much Lee is worth to his franchise, however, and he's set a high price tag on Lee's value, as noted by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
"He's telling people it'll take you three or four best prospects, plus you'd have to take all the money," one competing executive said of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. Another executive put it thusly, "You'd have to give up your first born, second and third born, too."
Tell us how you really feel.
Prospects are highly valuable, but the money involved is just as much of a sticking point. Lee is slated to earn $25 million the next two seasons and $27.5 million in 2015 (via Spotrac.com). By that time, he'll be 37 years old, and it's extremely risky to carry such a massive contract in an aging player.
This approach is exactly how the Phillies should handle this situation, however.
Yes, Lee is getting older, and he's not the same guy who won the Cy Young Award in 2008, but he's still capable of producing at the highest level.
This season, despite the overall struggles facing the Phillies, Lee has been a stalwart, leading the team's starting rotation. Posting a record of 10-4 with an ERA of 3.05, the veteran has struck out 131 batters while allowing just 22 walks.
Is there any chance Cliff Lee gets traded in 2013?
There's no indication that Lee will be unable to continue performing at this high level for the next couple of years, and if he does, then the Phillies will be set up to make a strong push back to the playoffs.
He'd be extremely valuable to any playoff-contending team that needs another starting pitcher, and Amaro knows it. He isn't worth trading unless the Phillies receive a huge prize in exchange.
By setting the bar so high, Amaro essentially ensures that his team will come out ahead—regardless of whether Lee gets traded or not.
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