With Lee off market, Lilly more attractive

The trade of Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers accelerates the list potential candidates who will be attractive to contenders. The Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly may be climbing that list after this latest transaction.

The New York Yankees were left holding the bag after Texas snuck in to acquire Lee, and the Yanks will be looking to add another top-flight starting pitcher. After Houston’s Roy Oswalt and Arizona’s Dan Heron, Lilly’s name will have more prominence.

Lilly, who pitches Friday against the los Angeles Dodgers, is in the final year for a four-year, $40 million contract. He has a limited no-trade clause that would allow him to veto certain teams. The Cubs pitcher has $5.5 million left on his 2010 contract.

But the Cubs will be in no hurry to move Lilly, as other teams line up to pursue pitching help. Chicago would like to hold onto the popular left-hander. However, trailing the Cincinnati Reds by 10 ½ games with 76 games left tempers their hopes for a division title.

The Cubs are in a listening mode for other veterans, including outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady. The Rangers have strong interest in Nady after trading their first baseman for Lee.