Will the Yankees go after Cliff Lee?

The Yankees nearly traded for Cliff Lee in the summer of 2010. They almost signed him as a free agent later that winter, but with Lee again on the market, the Yankees will not be players for the left-hander.

“No Cliff Lee,” a baseball official with knowledge of the Yankees' plans told ESPNNewYork.com

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee

#33 SP
Philadelphia Phillies

2012 STATS

  • GM17
  • W1

  • L6

  • BB23

  • K112

  • ERA3.95

There are several reasons the Yankees will not be in the Lee sweepstakes. First and foremost, the Yankees are trying to push their salaries under $189 million by 2014. With new contracts due for Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson by then and with Nick Swisher and Russell Martin free agents after this season, the Yankees would have trouble adding Lee’s $25 million salary in ’14. By ’17, Lee could be making $27.5 million at 37 years old.

The Yankees also do not want to give up their top prospects in a deal and it's unclear if they have a match to make a trade with the Phillies. The Yankees' two best pitching prospects coming into this season, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, have regressed. Banuelos has missed most of the season because of a sore elbow, while Betances’ ineffectiveness forced the Yankees to demote him from Triple-A to Double-A.

The Yankees do have some exciting prospects at Class-A in outfielders Mason Williams and Tyler Austin, as well as catcher Gary Sanchez, but the Phillies may want players who are closer to the major leagues.

While Yankees GM Brian Cashman always emphasizes improving the team’s pitching, it has been a strength this season and figures to become stronger next month when Andy Pettitte is expected to be fully recovered from his fractured fibula.

If the Yankees were to do anything, it will likely be a more minor move. Cashman has looked into the market for third basemen to see if he can find a right-handed hitter to pair with lefty-swinging Eric Chavez in Alex Rodriguez’s absence. So far, Cashman has been unable to find any matches and the Yankees may end up being content with Jayson Nix continuing in that role until Rodriguez returns next month.