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MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Observe Cliff Lee’s Rough 1st Start Off DL; Should Finally Lower Phillies Trade Demands

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:46 AM
By Douglas Rush

On Monday night, there were many scouts in attendance at Citizens Bank Park for the return of Cliff Lee for the Philadelphia Phillies as he took on the San Francisco Giants in his first start off the disabled list since May.

The start was far from memorable, as Lee ended up allowing six runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings, walked one and struck out three in a 7-4 loss to the first place Giants. There were two times during the game that Lee had a lead in the game; at 2-1 and then again at 4-3, but Lee surrendered the lead to San Francisco in the game.

If there was any positiveness to take from the shaky start; of the 12 hits, only two were extra-base hits, a double and a home run. The rest were singles and mostly ground balls finding holes in the Phillies infield, so while Lee gave up a lot of hits, they weren't all extra-base hits getting smacked all over the field. Despite that, the results didn't do the Phillies any favors as far as trying to unload his contract goes.

The New York Yankees as expected were on hand to watch Lee's first game back in over two month as Dan Martin of the New York Post reported late Monday night after the game, and while they were interested observers, Martin said that the asking price right now is too much for the 35-year-old lefty.

"The Yankees continue to proclaim they have faith in their young, inexperienced starting pitching, but that hasn’t kept them from keeping an eye on Cliff Lee. But a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said the Yankees were “just observers” as the left-hander made his first start for the Phillies on Monday night since returning from the disabled list with a strained tendon in his elbow on May 18. According to the source, Philadelphia was still asking for too much for Lee — who turns 36 next month — and not willing to take on enough of his remaining salary. Lee is due $25 million next season and would be due a buyout of $12.5 million if a team option for $27.5 million is not picked up in 2016."
The Yankees need pitching; especially with CC Sabathia now out for the rest of the 2014 season after he will need to undergo season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday and Masahiro Tanaka possibly headed for Tommy John Surgery. The Yankees are trying to get by with Shane Greene, Chase Whitley and David Phelps to go along with veterans Hiroki Kuroda and Brandon McCarthy, but that rotation won't make it that far when it comes to playoff baseball goes.
While their interest in Lee is obvious, it has to come with concern especially since Lee's start was far from good. Sure, he'll likely get one more start before July 31, but his trade value has obviously gone way down and to the point where it should force Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s hand.
His start should drastically lower Amaro's demands for Lee, especially since they're hoping for a team to take on the rest of his deal through at least 2015. Amaro can not ask for top prospects in a return deal like he could with Cole Hamels and hopefully, Monday night's start against the Giants was a cold, hard slap of reality to Amaro's face.
He couldn't find a taker last season for Lee because he was asking for both top prospects and to take on the high salary. Now throw in the fact that Lee just came off the DL and didn't pitch well. Good luck selling Lee with both attached to him; Amaro needs to drop one of the demands, or maybe both.
If anything, Amaro should try to help pay for some of Lee's remaining deal, and at the same time, not demand as high of prospects because Lee will be 36 in the next couple of weeks and while it was just one injury, teams will see him as a trade risk because of the elbow strain.
If Amaro has any sense in him, he begs the Yankees to take on Lee's deal and gets whatever he can for the veteran because at that point, it'll help both teams going forward.


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