Phillies Switch Focus To Cliff Lee

July 29, 2009 – 12:38 pm by Ryan Phillips

cliff-lee

The Philadelphia Phillies appear close to snagging a former American League Cy Young Award winner, but not the one they’ve been chasing for the better part of the month. Reports from all over the interwebs claim the defending World Series champs have switched their focus from Toronto’s Roy Halladay to Cleveland’s Cliff Lee.

To get Lee the Phillies probably wouldn’t have to include their top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, or their top position-player prospect, outfielder Dominic Brown. Whereas the Blue Jays have insisted that Drabek be included in a deal for Halladay.

There have been multiple signs that a deal for Lee might be done shortly. Yesterday three Cleveland scouts (including Steve Lubratich the club’s director of player personnel) were in Lehigh Valley to watch the Phillies’ Triple-A team play. The scheduled starting pitcher for Lehigh Valley, Carlos Carrasco, was pulled from his start with no explanation given. Carrasco is thought to be a key part of any possible deal between the two teams.

In addition to that, several other clubs pursuing Lee have gotten the impression from the Indians that the lefty would be sent somewhere other than their organizations.

The Phillies have ramped up their efforts to grab Lee over the past 24 hours when talks cooled with the Blue Jays concerning Halladay.

Lee won the 2008 AL Cy Young Award after posting a 22-3 record with a 2.54 ERA in 223.1 innings. He also threw four complete games and two shutouts. Lee will be 31-years-old on August 30th.

This season the former Arkansas Razorback is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and a 107-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 152 innings. Bear in mind that the Indians have struggled to a 42-59 record, so Lee’s 7-9 mark is severely skewed by his team’s awful performance so far.

He’s currently making $5.75 million this season and his contract has a team option of $9 million for 2010, after which he can become a free agent. It’s not immediately known if the Phillies would want to discuss an extension before making a deal for Lee. My guess would be no, since they’d like to see how he handles the not-so-pitcher-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. Lee is rated as “an extreme flyball pitcher” so it will be interesting to see how his game matches up to the Phillies’ home yard.

We’ll keep you updated on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: The deal is even closer to being done. And Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is actually claiming it is done.

MUCH SEXIER UPDATE: Rosenthal now says Lee and Ben Francisco are indeed headed to the Phillies for a ton of minor leaguers.

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