Cliff Lee: The Hunt For The Ace

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Cliff Lee: The Hunt For The Ace
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The value of Cliff Lee is more then simply a short term rental. The complete package Lee offer includes two plus months of the hottest pitcher in baseball, a guy who is a playoff tested leader and in all likely hood two compensation picks. Basically, a simple rental Lee is not. Further driving up Cliff’s value is the large amount of teams looking to acquire his services. Quality, close to major league ready prospects will be what it will require to rip the ace from Jack Zduriencik’s clutches. Here is a look at the top teams and their prospects as they vie for the All Star pitcher.

 

Minnesota Twins:

Wilson Ramos C-

Aaron Hicks OF-

Ben Revere OF-

Miguel Sano SS-

Kyle Gibson SP-

Baker/Slowey/Blackburn-

Other Prospects of Interest: Danny Valencia 3B, Chris Parmalee 1B, Trevor Plouffe SS, Carlos Gutierrez RHP, Ben Tootle RHP

New York Mets:

Jenrry Mejia RHP-

Fernando Martinez OF-

Wilmer Flores SS-

Ruben Tejada INF-

Ike Davis 1B-

Jon Niese LHP-

Other Prospects of Interest: Reese Havens SS, Jeurys Familia RHP, Josh Thole C

Texas Rangers:

Justin Smoak 1B-

Martin Perez LHP/ Nefatli Feliz RHP-

Tanner Scheppers RHP-

Wilmer Font RHP-

Jurickson Profar SS-

Engel Beltre OF-

Chris Davis 3B/1B-

Other Players of Interest: Michael Main RHP, Kasey Kiker LHP, Mitch Moreland 1B/OF

New York Yankees

Jesus Montero C/DH-

Austin Romine C-

Zach McAllister RHP-

David Adams 2B-

Eduardo Nunez SS-

Wild Cards:

1. Tampa Bay and BJ Upton:

2. Los Angeles Dodgers:

3. Brett Lawrie:

Lawrie is really just a solid example of a player that the Mariners could target in a three team deal. It is always hard to get an exact talent match and bringing in a third team might be the only way to make everyone happy.
Upton is not a great fit with the Mariners but it is hard to ignore his talent. Seattle does not have a hitter like him in their organization. The Dodgers can put together some interesting players if they decide they need Cliff Lee. Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon will likely stay put in LA but if they are in play the Dodgers could end up with the Ace.
Nunez can both field the position of short stop and hold his on with the bat. Nunez is still very slight at this point of his career but still has a bit of pop despite is demure stature.
The Mariners have been rumored to be interested in second basemen. Adams is a solid but unspectacular prospect whom can hit his position and still has some upside.
McAllister is a bit over rated in my opinion but he could be an interesting piece in a deal like this. Zach could excel pitching in Safeco Field with an outstanding defense behind him.
Austin is an all around catching prospect. While he is not the hitter Montero is he is solid behind the plate and is in no way a liability with the bat.
Montero is the elite type of bat that the Mariners are in need of. The problem with Jesus is that he is a right handed hitter in a park that favors lefties. I don’t personally see him as a catching prospect but more of a hitter that can catch a bit. His power has been down this year because of a hand injury and his hitting should not be affected long term.
: Why pay prospects for Lee now when you can sign him in the off season? World domination? Perhaps, but acquiring Lee would all but lock up the World Series for the boys from the Bronx.
Davis has shown big time power in the minors and with the Rangers. Davis is expendable now that Justin Smoak seems to have first base locked down. Davis strikes out a great deal and is no whiz in the field but he is ready for the majors.
Engel is the definition of a toolsie outfielder but, like Jurickson Profar, he is along way from the big leagues. Beltre can steal a base and has shown flashes of power.
The former Little League World Series champ from Curacao is the one of the more interesting prospects in the conversation in my opinion. Profar has produced well this season despite only being 17 years of age.
Font is a promising young right hander who is need of a bit more seasoning. Wilmer has averaged more then a strike out an inning in his 4 years in the minors.
Scheppers is a high ceiling player with a serious injury history. I worry that Scheppers is a future reliever and a relief pitcher for Cliff Lee is a scary proposition .
Neither are likely to be involved in any deal.
Smoak is a dream at best in this scenario. The only way I can see Smoak being involved in this deal is if it is straight up for him and Lee and the Mariners pay Lee’s salary. I am still not sure if either team would pull the trigger on that deal.
The Rangers top prospects are generally considered to be off limits. They do on other hand have a large number of second tier prospects and can offer a combination quality and quantity. Figure out the money will be a bit tricky with Texas but not impossible.
Niese is another MLB ready player who is already contributing to the big league club. Depending on how serious the bidding war gets the Mets could be consider favorites because of there ability to provide instant impact players.
Davis is an interesting name in that the mention of him being involved in a Lee deal makes Mets fan’s heads explode. Davis being a power hitting first baseman who is major league ready would make him and ideal piece for this deal. I am guessing that Mets will not bring Davis into the conversation unless they are desperate for Cliff.
Ruben is a solid middle infielder who could develop into a solid major league player. His versatility will be key for him making it in the bigs but how well he hits will determine if he can be an everyday player.
The young short stop could be the key component in the acquisition of Lee. He is not major league ready by any means which is the only real knock against him. Flores has great tools and hits for good power as a short stop.
Martinez has hurt by injuries in his young career and trading him now would definetly be selling low. Fernando has showed flashes of his potential but lacks the plate discipline Zduriencik values.
The top prospect in the Mets organization has been said to be liked but not loved by the Mariners. Mejia is a potential ace but his development has been slightly retarded by the Mets use of him in the bull pen this year.
Many have mentioned that one of these veteran starters could be thrown in to sweeten the deal if the Mariners want a proven pitcher in return.
Gibson is the top pitching prospect in the Twins organization and if there is an untouchable player in Minnesota’s minor league system Kyle is probably it. The tall right hander should move swiftly threw the minors.
Sano has a world of potential as a hitter. The problem with Sano is he is years away from the big leagues and Zduriencik will put a higher priority on MLB readiness for the best players involved in the package. Sano looks like he could be a monster one day but that day is not today.
With speed and polish beyond his years Revere could be very interesting to the Mariners. Revere has the potential to be a very good lead off hitter in the majors.
Hicks is the hitting gem of the Twins organization and they would be hard pressed to get rid of him. Hicks has the potential to become a star player with no holes in his game.
Ramos is a solid but unspectacular catching prospect who could be an above average hitter for the position and needs some work on his defense. Ramos by himself won’t be enough to headline a package for Lee but he is would be a nice piece.
Cliff Lee is the only thing in my mind that stands between the Twins and a legitimate shot at a World Series title. The Twins have enough quality prospects along with young talent to acquire Lee without decimating their future.

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