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MLB Trade Rumors: New York Yankees in Prime Position to Land Cliff Lee Before July 31

July 8th, 2014 at 2:47 PM
By Doug Rush

The New York Yankees already made one trade this month for a starting pitcher, as they acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Vidal Nuno.

However, even with that trade, the Yankees are far from done dealing before the July 31 trade deadline, as it is highly expected that the Yankees will make another trade for a top-end starter and the most talked about name continues to be Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lee is expected to return from the disabled list shortly after the All Star break next week; a July 19 date has been projected and the Phillies are expected to heavily shop Lee and the Yankees are the team most looked at.

With the Phillies looking to dump the rest of his salary, plus the fact that Lee is coming off the DL and won't have much time to pitch before the July 31 deadline, Brendan Kuty of the Newark-Star Ledger wrote on how the Yankees could be in prime position to acquire Lee and not have them cost them so much as far as prospects go.

"The Yankees already appear among those best-positioned to deal for Lee if they're willing to pay all or most of the $50 million he's due through 2015. That type of money might scare away other potential bidders. The possibility that Philadelphia would want to push hard to dump the 35-year-old lefty, who's 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA, could help the Yankees in a couple of ways. The amount of money left on Lee's deal already might aid general manager Brian Cashman's negotiations in that he could try to present the Phillies with a lesser prospect package. Ditto for if the Phillies want to get him off the roster sooner than later. The Yankees and other clubs might feel they're taking additional risk in trading for an ace so soon after he makes a comeback. That added risk could also help drive down Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.' asking price for Lee."
 
With the Yankees ability to take on the majority, if not all of Lee's remaining deal, it doesn't force Brian Cashman to trade guys like Dellin Betances or Luis Severino in a deal for Lee whereas it would likely cost him those guys in a deal for someone like David Price.
 
Because of CC Sabathia's likely season-ending knee injury, Michael Pineda's unknown return and Chase Whitley's recent struggles that got him demoted to the bullpen, the Yankees are in dire need of pitching help to along with Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps and McCarthy, who has yet to pitch for the Yankees.
 
The Yankees interest in Lee goes as far back as after the 2009 season; the Yankees tried to trade for Lee when he was on the Phillies, but instead, was a part of the three-team trade that sent him to the Seattle Mariners in the Roy Halladay deal. Then in the summer of 2010, the Yankees and Mariners were on the verge of sending Lee to the Yankees for Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova and David Adams, but the Mariners wanted Eduardo Nunez instead and the deal fell apart and Lee later went to the Texas Rangers.
 
The Yankees then pursued Lee heavily in free agency that winter, but he opted to return to the Phillies on a five-year, $125 million deal, leaving almost two years and $30 million more of guaranteed money on the table, but even after four years later, the Yankees still look like the best landing spot for the 35-year-old lefty to land this summer.
 

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Tags: Baseball, Cliff Lee, MLB, New York, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies

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