Jun 17, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee shown in the dugout during the game against the Atlanta Braves during the eighth inning at Turner Field. The Phillies defeated the Braves 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Cliff Lee returns to Phillies Monday; trade talks continue

With less than a month until Major League Baseball’s annual trade deadline, teams are beginning the second half with a pretty good idea what pieces they may be missing if a playoff run is in order.

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For many, reliable veteran pitching is on that list.

Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee will return to the team on Monday, making his first start since May 18. As someone who has been traded midseason on several occasions, Lee is no stranger to in-season trade talk and once again, his name has come up of late, despite his injuries, according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.

Lee is signed through 2015, with vesting options through 2016, so the Phillies do have the option of keeping him through the season and seeing what he might fetch in the offseason. But if Lee comes back strong this week, he could certainly draw the interest of contenders in need of a front-of-the-rotation spark.

In his rehab stint with Class-A Clearwater, the southpaw struggled, posting a 5.06 earned run average in 10 2/3 innings of work. The veteran Lee is owed somewhere in the ballpark of $38 million over 2015-16, plus a prorated piece of his $25 million salary from this season, according to Callis, which makes dealing Lee much more difficult.

Lee is signed through 2015, with vesting options through 2016, so the Phillies do have the option of keeping him through the season and seeing what he might fetch in the offseason. But if Lee comes back strong this week, he could certainly draw the interest of contenders in need of a front-of-the-rotation spark.

Last season, the 35-year-old Lee was a National League All-Star, going 14-8 with a  2.87 earned run average for the Phillies, notching 222 strikeouts in 222 2/3 innings of work.  In his five seasons with the team, which occurred in two separate stints, Lee has a sub-3.00 ERA.

Prior to his injury, Lee was 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts for Philadelphia. His big league career, spanning 13 years, has been spent with the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, in addition to the Phillies. The four-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner has a 143-90 record in his career.

Check out the Phillies schedule to see Lee back on the mound!

Tags: Cliff Lee MLB Philadelphia Phillies

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