Our daily trade deadline talk series continues with a pitcher that was mentioned in a report Wednesday.
The Rangers had a scout watching the Phillies-Dodgers game that Cliff Lee happened to be starting. I will point out that the Rangers don't just have to be scouting pitchers when they go to these games (this club still could use a right-handed bat, BTW). But a report from Danny Knobler at CBSSports.com says that Lee could be a backup plan for the Rangers should Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke fall through.
So what if the Phillies decided to re-sign Hamels and then try to unload another big contract, like Lee? Philadelphia says they aren't looking to unload Lee, so this is a big longshot. But it's fun to talk about.
Lee turned down a longer-term deal from the Rangers after the 2010 season to sign a five-year contract with the Phillies (and allow his family to avoid the rough Dallas-Fort Worth traffic, if you'll remember). He's making $25 million the next three seasons and a club option for $27.5 million in 2016 (or a $12.5 million buyout).
The price is high, but the Rangers would get a guy they could put at the top of the rotation for three more seasons. This isn't one of those rental player deals where you don't get anything in return past this season if you part with one or more of your top prospects.
Lee is the type of pitcher whom you certainly consider dealing some of your better prospects to get. It would seem logical that Mike Olt would be a part of that package. It might also take Martin Perez, a Cody Buckel and some others. Could you trade for Lee without dealing Jurickson Profar? I think you can, depending on the package. And I'm willing to talk about dealing some current major leaguers, like Neftali Feliz, for instance, to do it.
The Rangers were hestitant to give Lee a sixth year after the 2010 season and if they acquire him, it would be at the contract terms that CEO Nolan Ryan and others were more comfortable with at five years (three more after 2012). Lee will be 34 in August, so he's not exactly young. But he remains a solid and consistent performer despite his lack of wins. He's got a 3.72 ERA with 106 strikeouts and 22 walks in 111 1/3 innings. That's been typical of Lee's career -- a good strikeout-to-walk ratio.
I'm intrigued simply because we saw the difference Lee made in 2010 and the club would have him for three seasons. It's a risk in that we've seen already this season that injuries happen and Lee has a guaranteed contract through 2015. Again, this is a longshot possibility, but interesting to discuss.
If the Phillies did surprise everyone and make Lee available, what would you give up for him? If the Phillies insisted on both Profar and Olt, would you do it? Give me a package of prospects or major league players or both to get him.