The trade deadline has passed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Philadelphia Phillies are done making moves.
After shipping outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence out west and re-signing Cole Hamels to a six-year contract extension, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has decided to tie up all loose ends by placing left-handed starter Cliff Lee on waivers according to Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan. Passan recently tweeted the following:
Source: Phillies have placed Cliff Lee on waivers. Executives expect him to clear Friday afternoon, be eligible for trade.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2012
As he states, the move is being done in preparation for a trade. After the MLB Trade Deadline of July 31st, teams are not eligible to trade players unless they’ve cleared waivers; if no team claims Lee, he will be eligible to be traded to any of the eight teams he hasn’t designation in his “no-trade clause”, designated to the minor leagues or released outright.
Obviously, the Phillies plan on pursuing the first option as a way of re-stocking the farm system and releasing even more cap space—Lee is owed $75 million over the next three seasons and then $27.5 more million in the player option season of 2016.
That said, Cliff Lee is still a good pitcher. Even though his record shows 2-6, a better performance from the Phillies’ offense early in the season would probably have spotted him four or five more wins, and his 3.73 ERA is nothing to laugh at. Though he’ll need to produce at a higher level to warrant the kind of money he’s making, he will be an excellent piece for whichever team ends up with him.
Potential suitors include the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees (of course) and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rangers and Dodgers lack depth in the rotation and adding someone like Lee could boost their division chances as they try and hold off the Athletics and Giants respectively. New York still has a good starting rotation, but fatigue seems to be settling in and Lee would be a great addition for the stretch run and postseason.
Ruben Amaro Jr. seems to have finally settled for the rebuilding phase, a smart move in all likelihood. Even if Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay can return to form next season following bad injuries this year, the Phillies just won’t be good enough all-around to make the playoffs, much less advance when they get there.
With several teams desperate for pitching help, the team could land the top-notch prospects that could have the ship sailing smoothly once again as soon as 2014.