The Phillies are open to trading Lee by Wednesday's trade deadline.
It's getting down to crunch time. Whether a team is at the top of its division or just a few games out, or even on the cusp of falling out of contention, it has about 24 hours left to make a pre-deadline deal to improve its ballclub.
Talks are beginning to heat up and speculation is swirling after pitchers Jake Peavy and Bud Norris were scratched from Tuesday's starts, and Peavy was eventually traded to the Boston Red Sox. The Phillies' call-up of third-base prospect Cody Asche indicates that a Michael Young deal is on the horizon.
On the other hand, there has been a lot of posturing by teams claiming a certain player is no longer available on the trade market.
The reality is that all players have a price, even if 29 teams don't have the resources to match it. If there is interest in a particular player, teams can have a standoff that continues all the way down to the 11th hour before one side flinches and either the "seller" lowers the asking price or the "buyer" gives in and meets the asking price.
Here are five contending teams that might not want to let the opportunity pass to add an impact player to their 25-man roster for the stretch run.
The O's have already added a starting pitcher (Scott Feldman) and a relief pitcher (Francisco Rodriguez) via trades in July. Now it's time to add another bat to a lineup that has struggled as of late (.699 OPS in last 23 games). They're chasing the red-hot Rays and the Red Sox in the AL East—they're 58-48 and five games out in the division—and can't afford to go into the last two months of the season with too many holes throughout the lineup.
With several outfielders, first basemen and designated-hitter types floating around in trade rumors, the O's should be able to land a hitter. Depending on what type of prospect or package of prospects they'll give up, it could be a minor upgrade, such as Justin Morneau of the Twins, or a major upgrade, like Alex Rios of the White Sox.
The best fit could come from the Mariners, a team that has said it doesn't plan on selling but has several free agent-to-be veteran hitters who could boost an Orioles lineup. Raul Ibañez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse (pictured) could each fill roles as the primary designated hitter in Baltimore with occasional starts in the field.
Even if they're not entirely willing to sell at 7.5 games back in the wild-card race, the M's could part with one of the three due to the sufficient depth they have at designated hitter and the corner-outfield spots.
The Royals have won six straight to get back to .500. They're still seven games back in the division, however, and five games back in the wild-card race. If they're not selling, then it makes sense for them to at least do whatever they can to fill their lineup holes at either second base or right field.
Yesterday, I put together potential trade packages for second baseman Howie Kendrick (pictured), who is one of the Angels' few trade chips with value, and the Royals were included in that group. Kansas City's second basemen have combined for a .590 OPS this season and there doesn't appear to be any help on the way.
With the Phillies saying Chase Utley is not available as they try to strike a deal on a contract extension, Kendrick could be the lone trade candidate unless the Brewers, Mets and White Sox shop Rickie Weeks, Daniel Murphy and Gordon Beckham, respectively.
The fourth-place Yankees are still only 2.5 games out of a wild-card spot, an amazing feat for a team that has suffered so many injuries to key players. General manager Brian Cashman owes it to this team to add some reinforcements at the trade deadline after it's played above expectations to hang around in the race up until now.
Adding Alfonso Soriano helps, as does Derek Jeter's return from a quad injury and the impending return of Curtis Granderson, who is currently on a rehab assignment. One more bat, preferably a right-handed hitter who plays first base, could give manager Joe Girardi a nice array of options to choose from when he writes out his lineup each day.
Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse would be obvious fits, as would White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (pictured), if he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause. If the Astros want to start making room for all their young talent closing in on the majors—specifically first baseman Jonathan Singleton and center fielder George Springer—they might be willing to move Chris Carter (.769 OPS, 19 HR).
And unlike the last two seasons, this Pittsburgh team has so much talent on its 25-man roster that no one expects it to fade again. In fact, it could surpass the Cards and pull away relatively quickly over the next few weeks.
Now, a very talented Cardinals team finds itself in a position where it might have to make an impact trade to stay on top and hold off the Pirates down the stretch. The Cards have the resources to make a significant deal to add a front-line starter and might be able to land Phillies ace Cliff Lee.
Adding the lefty Lee to a rotation that already includes right-handers Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook could give them all the firepower they need to secure another playoff berth and make another World Series run.
Desperately seeking a hitter, maybe even two, the Rangers have fallen six games behind the A's in the AL West and one game back in the wild-card race.
They have the deep pitching staff that has the capability of carrying the team far into the playoffs with a starting rotation of Yu Darvish, Matt Garza, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and possibly even Matt Harrison if he returns from a back injury late in the season. The bullpen has Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria and Tanner Scheppers pitching late in games to go along with two effective lefties in Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts. Former All-Star and Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz should also be back soon.
But the lack of offense could hurt their chances of actually getting to the postseason. They have the deep farm system to acquire a big-name bat, but they're also reportedly willing to "listen on anyone" on the major-league roster, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, in their quest to upgrade their offense.
White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (pictured) has been linked to the team in rumors for weeks, but there are several other names who could be targets, including Marlon Byrd of the Mets, Hunter Pence of the Giants and Nate Schierholtz of the Cubs. Although the Marlins have said over and over they're not trading Giancarlo Stanton, he can't be ruled out in a blockbuster deal with a team like Texas, one of the few teams that might have the resources to change their mind.