The Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership group continues to show that it is committed to winning it all in 2012. After acquiring right-hander Joe Blanton from the Phillies on Friday for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the Dodgers were awarded claiming rights on Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee, who was placed on waivers earlier this week.
Now, the Phillies can work out a trade with the Dodgers, pull Lee back from waivers or just let the Dodgers take on the 34-year-old veteran’s remaining salary. Lee is receiving $21.5 million this year and is under contract for $25 million through 2015. He also has a vesting option for $27.5 million in 2016 and a $12.5 million buyout.
Trading for or taking on Lee is undoubtedly a commitment that can have benefits in the short term. Though Lee is just 2-6 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 starts this year for the Phillies, he is a proven veteran with post-season experience.
The Dodgers rotation currently includes Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and the newly acquired Blanton. Adding Lee would give Los Angeles two ace-caliber arms. Billingsley, Capuano, Harang and Blanton are ideally suited for back of the rotation roles.
Shedding the long-term commitment to Lee could benefit the Phillies for the short term since they can spend the money to add multiple players instead of retaining a veteran whose performance in two years likely won’t warrant the salary he is receiving.
The Phillies just signed 28-year-old left-hander Cole Hamels to a long-term extension and they have right-hander Roy Halladay under contract through 2013 at $20 million a season with a $20 million option for 2014.
Philadelphia’s rotation also features talented 24-year-old right-hander Vance Worley, who is 6-6 with a 3.63 ERA in 18 starts this season. In the minors, the organization has two highly regarded starting pitching prospects in 22-year-old right-hander Trevor May and 20-year-old left-hander Jesse Biddle.