The Philadelphia Phillies are not likely to be legitimate (or illegitimate) contenders in 2014. Relying on an aging roster, a thin farm system, and a handsomely compensated closer (oh hey, Jonathan Papelbon), the Phillies would surprise the league if they made a run at the playoffs this season. For the record, their over/under for season wins is sitting right around 78 wins, or just below the .500 mark.
If they are out of the race come trade deadline time, then Cliff Lee‘s name will make its annual appearance in the myriad of trade rumors for teams who seek help for their starting rotation. In that scenario, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly believes that this might be the year the Phillies finally end up trading Lee:
Lee has been the subject of trade rumors each of the last two seasons, but Phillies management, hoping for one more run at a championship, has hung on to him.
If the 2014 Phillies aren’t positioned to make that run in July, this might end up being the season that management pulls the trigger on Lee.
That’s the conventional wisdom around baseball. Lee’s salary, though still huge, will be more manageable in July and his value, provided he’s healthy and effective, will be strong because a contending team can have him for two Octobers -– and maybe three if option for 2016 kicks in.”
That last part is the kicker here: if a team did add Lee in a trade, he would under team control for the 2015 season as well, making the move more than a rental. That possibility stands to get the Phillies something more in return, especially if Lee is pitching as well as he did last season (2.87 ERA, 8.97 K/9). The potential haul of prospects in a deal might be too much for the Phillies to turn down depending on the state of the team at that point in time.