The Philadelphia Phillies put Cliff Lee on, waivers and Lee was reportedly claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. When Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro was asked about the report, he replied, “It is irrelevant because he is not going anywhere.”
But, with the Phillies in full sell mode, why would they put up a not for sale sign on Lee, after putting him on waivers.
As we know, the Phillies can pull Lee back off waivers, assign his contract to the team that won the claim ( Dodgers) , or work to a trade with the claiming team (Dodgers).
Those are the three options, and two of the three are worth serious consideration.
Thome and Qualls are not long-term solutions to any of the Phillies issues, that’s understood. The point is, the composition and makeup of the team is being changed.
On top of the player purge through trades, the Phillies signed Cole Hamels to a six-year $144 million deal, and with Roy Halladay, the Phillies big three starters will add in excess of $60 million to their player salary tab next year.
The Phillies team that one five straight division championships is gone and it won’t be back in 2013.
Lee is owed approximately $95 million through 2015. Lee has struggled in 2012, is currently 2-6 with 3.73 ERA. Lee is still a top-of-the-line pitcher. “He’s still got it, he is still there, it’s just a matter of him being consistent again,” manager Charlie Manuel said before the game. “I haven’t seen him lose anything.” Philly.com
That may be, but an opportunity to relieve the payroll of $95 million could be tempting.
And it may just be the smartest thing the Phillies could do. Lee is 33 years old, and turns 34 on August 30.
How long will it be before the Phillies can compete for a National League East division title again?
The Dodgers new ownership has deep pockets, and has shown a willingness to spend money if it means winning. The Dodgers have traded for Hanley Ramirez, Victorino, and Blanton. Andre Ethier signed a five-year a $85 million deal and Cuban defector Yasiel Puig for $42 million.Taking on Lee’s salary won’t be an issue, if that’s what the Phillies decide. Not a likely scenario, as the Phillies will want something back for Lee.
Making trade with the Dodgers makes more sense, and the return for a front-line starter like Lee, could be significant. The Dodgers have some of the most desired pitching prospects in baseball. Zach Lee, Allen Webster and or Chris Reed. While the Dodgers claimed they would not deal one of their pitching prospects for Ryan Dempster, Cliff Lee might be a different story.
Lee may end up staying in Philadelphia. According to Amaro that’s going to be the case. But unloading a $95 million contract on a team that is going to be looking for help sooner than later makes sense.