Rumors: The Definitive Case for Trading for Cliff Lee at the Deadline

Anthony Maimone@@amaimone4Featured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee watches the baseball game against the Miami Marlins from the dugout in the ninth inning in Miami, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The Marlins won 14-5. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Alan Diaz/Associated Press

With the first two months of the MLB season almost complete and two months left before the trade deadline, the teams that will become buyers and sellers begin to take place.

The New York Yankees are almost always buyers every season, and this season will be no different.

The Yankees have battled several injuries and find themselves in the thick of the American League playoff picture.

The majority of those injuries have come to the Yankees starting rotation.

Ivan Nova is done for the season after having Tommy John surgery.

Both Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are on the disabled list thanks to back and knee injuries, respectively.

If the Yankees are going to make one move this deadline, it will be for a starting pitcher.

The good news is that there are plenty of arms possibly up for being dealt.

The darling of the trade deadline seems to be Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who with his age, ability and another year of control would be a perfect fit.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Unfortunately for the Yankees, according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, the Baltimore Orioles seem to be the favorite for his services.

The pitcher the Yankees should focus on acquiring is the Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee.

With the Phillies in last place of their division they look to be sellers, and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that several baseball executives think that the Yankees will be a match.

If Lee is willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Yankees, there is a making of a potential deal between the two teams.

The fact that Lee is currently on the DL with an elbow would normally discourage a team from wanting him, but the Yankees should see it as a positive for two reasons.

For one, Lee's injury history will bring down his overall trade value, which helps the Yankees acquire him.

Secondly, if the Yankees make a move for him, then they already believe he will get past the injury, and the time spent on the DL in the early part of the season should mean a fresher arm later in the season.

As far as assets to land Lee in the Bronx, Jim Bowden of believes the Yankees have more than most realize (subscription required)

The Yankees can easily dangle their top prospect, catcher Gary Sanchez, because he has become more expendable due to the signing of Brian McCann this offseason.

Sanchez would fill a need for the Phillies as they will need a replacement soon for the aging Carlos Ruiz.

The Yankees also have another asset that every team will need in order to bring in Lee: deep pockets.

If the Phillies are going to trade Lee, it is to dump his remaining salary. He is still owed $50 million over the next two years.

Not many teams in baseball are going to be willing to take on that big of a load.

Lee is 35 years old, and his best is definitely behind him. He certainly isn't performing to the caliber his contract would indicate, but he isn't pitching that bad.

Lee is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA so far this season. His K rate is still at 8.1/9 and, as always, he never walks anyone.

A season ago he threw over 200 innings and had a sub-three ERA for the season.

A healthy Lee with his veteran leadership and postseason experience would be a huge boost to a depleted starting rotation.

Pairing him with Masahiro Tanaka at the top of the rotation would make the Yankees one very tough out come October. 


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