- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has heard that the Indians are in no hurry to deal Cliff Lee and would have to be "completely overwhelmed" by an offer to make it work.
This report jives with the many rumblings SI.com's Jon Heyman has gathered, and the reasons behind Cleveland's stubbornness make complete sense. Lee has an affordable $8MM option for 2010 and is currently the glue that holds the Indians' rotation together. Without his presence, Cleveland would have some serious rotation question marks in 2010 and beyond. "I know this much: If Lee is traded this year, that would be a tough sell to the fan base," Castrovince concludes.
A Minor Point: According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, that option for 2010 is actually $9 million because Lee won the Cy Young Award last year. So let's hear it for Lee's agent (Darek Braunecker); when Lee signed his current deal in August 2006, would anyone have given a plugged nickel for his Cy Young prospects? When that month dawned, he was 9-8 with a 4.70 ERA.
Anyway, while Lee's not going to win any big awards this year, he's gone a long way toward proving that last year wasn't a complete fluke. He's got the second-lowest walk rate of his career, he's striking out enough hitters, and he's again been stingy with the gopher ball. There aren't five clubs in the majors that wouldn't be thrilled to have him and his contract.
For the Indians, though, it comes down to this: Do they expect to win at least 85 games next season, with Lee in the fold? If so, it would be foolish to trade him for almost anything they might get, because they'd have a real tough time replacing his immediate contributions. If they do not expect to win 85 games, though? Then they might as well deal him now, when his value is as high as it will ever be.
I don't think they will trade him, because I think they think they're not really so far away from contending again. Are they right about that? I don't have any idea. I'm the idiot who picked them to win their division this season.