Phillies in the Hunt for Lee
Could Cliff Lee rejoin the Phillies?
There is a chance.
I’m not sure how great that chance is, but sources confirmed reports today the Phillies are a legitimate suitor in the Lee sweepstakes. The Phillies almost certainly are offering less money than the Yankees and Rangers, but here is the ‘X’ factor: Lee absolutely enjoyed his time in Philadelphia in 2009 and in the past has indicated to teammates he would like to rejoin the organization.
But does he love Philadelphia enough to leave millions of dollars on the table?
“All I can say is I’m not going to comment either way,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said tonight of the reports.
The Phillies have nearly $150 million committed to 17 players next season, so they would need to clear payroll for Lee. A source said the Phillies have been shopping Joe Blanton in recent days. The source said the Phillies would be willing to eat some of Blanton’s salary to foster a trade. He is owed $17 million over the next two seasons.
(The Tigers are a team looking for back end rotation help, although it’s unclear how much salary they would take on.)
The source also said the Phillies have been gauging team’s interest in Kyle Kendrick and Raul Ibanez, who makes $11.5 million this season before becoming a free agent.
Lee was stunned last December when the Phillies traded him to Seattle. He did not want to leave, but at the time Lee’s agent indicated he would be incredibly difficult to sign to an extension. So the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay, who signed a club-friendly, three-year, $60 million contract to leave Toronto, and shipped Lee to the Mariners for three prospects.