The Philadelphia Phillies made big news on Wednesday by locking up Cole Hamels with a six-year, $144 million contract. While the deal gives both Hamels and the Phillies security long-term, Philadelphia still appears to be in sell-mode. That means fellow starting pitcher Cliff Lee could be on his way out of town.
The Phillies are currently listening to offers for outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. And while Hamels looked to be the starting pitcher most likely to be dealt just a few weeks ago, his extension has ended all of that speculation. But Philadelphia would still like to clear some of its payroll off the books, which makes the 33-year-old Lee a likely piece to be moved.
Lee signed to a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies in December of 2010, and he has three years and $87.5 million left on that deal after this season. The Arkansas product hasn’t been especially dominant in 2012, but he has a long track record of success and a 2.52 career ERA in postseason play.
The Phillies are currently 45-54 and sit 14 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League East. With their season all but over, they would be wise to move some money off their ledger while they can, and pick up young players in exchange.
So far this season, Lee has a 1-6 record with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He has thrown 118.1 innings, while allowing 119 hits, and striking out 112 against just 23 walks. Lee’s WAR in 2012 is just 1.9, compared to 8.9 last season.
Lee can block a trade to 21 teams thanks to a provision in his contract, but the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are not on that list. That means two of the teams sure to be buying over the next week could come calling. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels will both probably be interested as well.
We’re hearing it will likely take a big offer to move Lee, but that the Phillies are definitely willing to listen to what other teams have to say.
We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.