The Cliff Lee to the New York Yankees rumors have been on-going for almost four years now; dating back to when they nearly landed him four summers ago at the trade deadline from the Seattle Mariners.
Four years later, now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Lee's name has been heavily tied to the Yankees again and with their need for a starting pitcher, it's making more and more sense for them to land the lefty. Given the recent news of Michael Pineda's latest setback in his road to recovery from a back injury he initially suffered in May, plus the recent struggles of Vidal Nuno in the rotation, the Yankees have a dire need for pitching.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News wrote on how Lee makes the most sense for the Yankees and why they should make the deal for the Phillies left-handed ace before the deadline.
"That leaves Lee, who has been an object of the Yankees’ affection on more than one occasion and figures to be at some point again in the not-too-distant future if he can show his elbow is healthy. For the sake of this argument, let’s assume Sabathia comes back and gives the Yankees a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm. Is there still a need for another pitcher such as Lee? Absolutely."
One thing Feinsand factored into the Yankees logic for trading for Lee is Chase Whitley and how long the Yankees can continue to push him in his first season as a starter after being converted from a career-long relief pitcher.
"Whitley has been a savior for the Yankees and their injury-ravaged rotation, going 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in seven starts. But Whitley, a career reliever who had made nine starts during his first four years in the minors, has never thrown more than 91 innings in a season. Most organizations don’t like to extend a pitcher’s innings total more than 30 or so from their career-high from one year to the next, meaning Whitley can probably throw 120-130 innings this season. He’s already at 65. If he doubles that over his next seven outings, he’ll be at that number by the third week of July. Just about the time the Phillies could be ready to move Lee."
CC Sabathia is also expected to come back to the Yankees sometime after the All Star break in July, but can he still be an effective starter after missing the last couple of months due to a degenerative knee condition? Another major reason for the Yankees to deal for Lee as well.
Taking on the rest of Lee's contract also won't be an issue for the Yankees either, as he's owed the rest of his $25 million salary in 2014, $25 million in 2015 and if he pitches 200 innings in 2015, has a vesting option for $27.5 million for 2016; money the Yankees can afford, especially since they blew right through the $189 million luxury tax threshold this past winter when they added Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka; Lee's $25 million salary wouldn't be an issue either.
If the Phillies will look for prospects in return, the Yankees can find some common ground to give Philadelphia something in return, but the best thing the Yankees will give the Phillies is major salary relief and $25 million a year off their payroll. For the Yankees sake, Lee would give them another bona fide ace in their rotation and help their quest for a championship.
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