Our contracts bring all the boys to the yard
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports is banging that Cliff Lee trade drum, or he’s building the Cliff Lee trade drum. Hard to tell:
Cliff Lee is performing. His team has a losing record. The trade deadline no longer seems far away. The rumors are starting.
It happened in 2009, when he went from Cleveland to Philadelphia. It happened in 2010, when he went from Seattle to Texas.
You wonder if Lee is thinking, “Here we go again.”
In fact, he is.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Lee acknowledged Friday, during an interview at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. “Nothing I can do about it, so I’m not going to get too caught up in it.”
I have no idea why the Phillies would want to trade the best pitcher in the National League. None. If the organization thinks they have any chance of competing over the next three years (Lee’s contract is guaranteed through 2015 with a club option in 2016), there would be no reason to trade Lee, who, at 34, is showing no signs of slowing down. Sure, he’s likely to be considered “overpaid” in the final few years of his deal, but the Phillies knew that going in. And there hasn’t yet been any indication that they are planning to blow up the entire team (I think they think they can make moderate adjustments and be in contention again). Even though trading Lee would land them a massive haul, why would you want to move an ace who’s under contract? Ryan Howard’s deal is outlandish, Lee’s isn’t. There’s absolutely an argument to be made for trading him for prospects, but there’s a better argument to be made for keeping an ace who isn’t exactly pushing up against retirement.
Lee has a no-trade clause that lists 20 teams (basically, the 20 most likely teams to trade for him), so he’d have to approve virtually any trade the Phillies would make. Morosi spoke with Lee, and it’s hard to tell if Lee is seriously preparing to be traded, or if he’s just humoring Morosi in his quest for a story:
“The way we played last year, the way we’ve started out this year, it’s getting close to do-or-die time. . . . Management is going to have some decisions to make when we get closer to the trade deadline, if we continue to play the way we have. I want to do everything I can to make sure they’re not forced to make some of those decisions. I’m just going to try to pitch and do everything I can to help the team win.”
“I can’t sit here and come up with the what-ifs,” he said. “If (a trade scenario) presents itself, I’ll have to look at the situation and figure it out. Right now, I’m a Phillie and I want to do everything I can to help this team win.”
“Every time I’ve been traded, before that every organization would say, ‘You’ll be the first one to know if we’re ever going to move you,’” Lee said, recalling that he learned of each trade while watching television. “I was the last one to know every time.”
Lee was including Amaro in that last quote. Amaro, of course, already made the mistake of trading Lee once. Doing so again, at least at this point, would be dee you em– dumb.