The Philadelphia Phillies have to fall out of the race first. If they don’t, this point will be moot. But if they do fall out of the race as many people expect they will eventually, they will have arguably the most intriguing trade piece come deadline time.
Cliff Lee is off to his usual solid start, save for some bad luck in the win-loss column: 3-4 record, 3.23 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 8.5 K/9. Under team control for the next couple seasons, albeit at an expensive price, Lee could bring in a significant haul in a trade.
When it comes to teams that could afford to keep Lee at $25 million next season and $27 million if his option vests in 2016, it is utterly predictable that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox would be at the top of the list. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
Baseball executives think they’ll have their eyes on Cliff Lee if the Phillies fall out of the race. Of course, that’s a big if.
The Yankees would have plenty of competition for Lee, perhaps even from the Red Sox, who have long coveted him, especially given his past relationship with John Farrell in the Cleveland organization.”
The problem for the Yankees, of course, would be the fact that they continue to leave the cupboard bare in terms of prospects they can package in such a trade offer. As for the Red Sox, if they are in a position to make such a deal it would make for a frighteningly good rotation this season and next. Both teams, along with other interested partners, will wait and see if the Phillies plummet in the standings or not.