Well, well. Look at that. An All-Star pitcher with a penchant for pissing excellence, specifically in October, didn’t magically slip through the waiver wire.
Jon Heyman reports that Cliff Lee did not clear waivers. But, all this means is that the Phillies can either pull him back off waivers, let him go to the team that claimed him, or work out a trade with that team.
Lee’s contract, of course, says that he can only be traded to or claimed by one of eight teams without his approval, and we don’t know which they are. Nor do we know which team claimed him.
The folks over at MLB Trade Rumors broke it down further:
The team(s) that claimed Lee showed a willingness to take on approximately $95MM in future commitments. Lee earns $21.5MM in 2012 and $25MM per season through 2015. His contract includes a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5MM buyout. If the Phillies can assign Lee to the claiming team without his permission, they will now have to decide whether they value Lee's performance more than the flexibility they'd obtain by letting him go. If multiple teams claimed Lee, National League teams have priority over American League teams.
When asked about Lee this afternoon, Amaro told reporters, "he is not going anywhere.” So, Lee being claimed likely means nothing. Maybe. I don’t believe a word that comes out of Ruben Amaro’s mouth.
UPDATE: Howard Eskin reports that the Phillies pulled Lee off waivers when the claim was made. But no confirmation on that.
UPDATE 2: Eskin was wrong. FOX Sports' Jon Morosi reports that it was the Dodgers (yeah, the team that wanted Cole Hamels and just traded for Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton) who put the claim in on Lee. Morosi feels it's unlikely that they will ultimately obtain him, but there's still the possibility.
Heyman provides more details: [CBS Sports]
The Phillies will talk, but their people have suggested to others they don't see a trade for Lee as very likely. If a trade can't be worked out, the Phillies would then pull back Lee and he wouldn't be traded this season. If a player is put on waivers a second time, he can't be pulled back.
Prior to the deadline the Phillies weren't offering to pay down the $95 million remaining on Lee's deal through 2015 while also asking for a big prospect back. The claiming team obviously has to be willing to absorb the full contract, as the Phillies theoretically could just send him to that team (although people familair with the team's thinking say they aren't likely to do that).
UPDATE 3: The Dodgers' website is reporting that the team was prepared to take on Lee's contract, but the Phillies wanted a major haul in return, so the Dodgers settled on Blanton (heh). Looks like Lee is staying in Philly.