With Jeff Samardzija having already been dealt and with the Tampa Bay Rays wavering on their course of action with David Price, teams in search of an ace starting pitcher before this summer’s trade deadline might have turned their attention to Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Those plans might also be thwarted, however, as Lee’s rehab progress as he works his way back from a strained pitching elbow remains slow. With the news that he won’t return until after the All-Star break, the window might be too tight to pull off a trade between Lee’s return and the July 31st deadline. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly writes that Lee won’t return until the weekend after the midsummer classic.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lee would pitch Wednesday for Single A Clearwater. Amaro said Lee would probably require one more minor-league rehab start after that, likely five days later. The all-star break arrives after Sunday’s games. That means Lee could not pitch in the majors until the first weekend after the all-star break when the Phillies are in Atlanta.
Trades are possible beyond July 31st, as we have been reminded with the execution of significant deals in the last couple seasons. That may or may not be possible with Lee, but if a team like the New York Yankees truly has their sights set on him, they would more realistically be able to put a deal in the books this month if it is going to happen at all.
As for the teams that would be interested in Lee, the burden of the remaining money on his deal limits potential suitors to the usual, evil candidates: Yankees, Red Sox, probably the Dodgers, blah blah blah. Those teams will be monitoring Lee’s progress as he returns to the mound later this month.