Cliff Lee Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Phillies Star

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 10: Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the first inning in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park on April 10, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Updates from Wednesday, July 30

FOX Sports' Kent Rosenthal reports the Phillies are non-plussed by the received offers:

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported on the Phillies' stance as it pertains to trading Cliff Lee:

The Phillies are said to be willing to pay down some of Cliff Lee's rather large and backloaded contract to facilitate a trade, if they can get the right prospects.

Lee is the highest-paid player in baseball through next year in terms of guarantee (about $48 million), and with him just back for two so-so (at best) starts after two months off with an elbow issue, they'd presumably have to pay a fair amount of his contract to do a trade.

Updates from Monday, July 28

Matt Gelb of Philly.com reports on the potential of Cliff Lee being traded by the Phillies:

There is little doubt Cliff Lee will step onto the Nationals Park mound in Washington on Thursday, just three hours after the non-waiver trade deadline strikes. He has pitched 102/3 innings in two starts and permitted nine runs on 21 hits since his return from a strained left elbow. No contender will add Lee, not until the ace recaptures some dominance.

The Phillies could benefit from the short-term uncertainty that surrounds Lee. They will expose him to waivers next month - just as most teams do with their players - and Lee should go unclaimed. He is owed $45.5 million after Aug. 1, a number that will scare others, given Lee's recent performance.

A team that claims Lee could be liable for that full sum. The Phillies can either transfer Lee's contract to the claiming team, negotiate a trade with the team, or pull Lee from waivers. That is why he should clear.

Updates from Wednesday, July 23

ESPN's Buster Olney reports on the timetable that Cliff Lee could be dealt by the Philadelphia Phillies:

Updates from Tuesday, July 22

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports on the teams Cliff Lee could be traded to without his approval: 

Lee’s deal also includes a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 20 teams. According to a baseball source, Lee has listed Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, the New York Mets, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Washington as the nine teams he can be traded to without his consent.

Updates from Monday, July 21

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported on teams taking a look at Cliff Lee after his return from the disabled list:

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reports how many teams are on Cliff Lee's no-trade list: 

Original Text

On Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies begin their second half in the National League East cellar with a 42-53 record. General manager Ruben Amaro has several assets who will be very valuable in trades, including left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee. 

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, word around Philadelphia is the team would rather move Lee than Cole Hamels. 

"The strong belief, based on talks so far with the Phillies," wrote Heyman, "is that the team would much prefer to trade Cliff Lee than Cole Hamels."

However, another general manager quoted in Heyman's report wonders how you can possibly trade for Lee now, because he "isn't pitching."

Lee pitched in only 10 games this season before going on the disabled list May 20 with a left elbow strain. He was terrific in the games he did pitch, posting a 3.18 ERA with 61 strikeouts and nine walks in 68 innings. 

If you are asking teams to trade for Lee, who is 35 years old and will make $25 million in 2015 with a vesting option for $27.5 million in 2016, they need to see what he's capable of doing and whether the financial investment is worth the cost. 

The 2008 American League Cy Young winner is on track to return July 21, according to manager Ryne Sandberg, per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

There is still no definitive word on what the Phillies plan to do at the deadline. Amaro did recently say the team would be "open to anything," via another report from Heyman. That's the first logical quote from Philadelphia's general manager in almost two years. 

Given how expensive Lee will be the rest of this season and next season, it seems likely the Phillies will have to pick up some of that contract to get the package they want or settle for a lesser deal in order to get a team to take on all that money. 

Lee has been an impact starting pitcher for seven years, and there was little to suggest that was going to change before he got hurt, so a team in need of pitching help can elevate its standing dramatically if it acquires the lefty.

It's still a steep price to pay for anyone, especially a pitcher coming off an arm injury who will turn 36 on August 30. 

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