The Philadelphia Phillies have done it before, and they very well could do it again.
Of course, I’m talking about trading veteran pitcher Cliff Lee, who the Phillies traded to the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2010 season, only to sign him as a free agent a year later. With Philadelphia being a distant third in the NL East and being as far out in the wild card race as they are in the division, the Phillies are likely to be in sell mode leading up to the MLB trade deadline, which would make Lee available for trade.
Lee is having an outstanding season, already eclipsing the 10-win plateau with an ERA below three. While Lee is under contract through the 2015 season, the Phillies’ roster, including their starting rotation, is getting quite old, and they may want to get younger, especially with two younger teams, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, in control of the NL East.
If Lee were traded, there would be no doubt that he would be the best player in baseball to switch teams prior to the deadline, and the chances of getting to the World Series for the team acquiring him would increase tenfold.
Of course, trading for Lee would require a king’s ransom, which means that the Phillies could bolster their farm system and add a wealth of young talent that could propel their franchise for years to come if they chose to trade Lee.
As much as Lee might like being in Philadelphia, he wants to win more. He knows he won’t be competing for a championship this season, and he should know that with the current roster, it will be tough for the Phillies to overtake the Nationals and Braves during the next two seasons as well.
Whether he’s willing to admit it publicly or not, Lee would like to be traded to a contender, and that just may be the push the Phillies need to get a deal done before the deadline.
Rumors about Lee aren’t swirling just yet, but as the deadline draws closer and the Phillies fall further out of contention, the rumors about Lee are sure to pick up. Despite the high price it will take to acquire him, any team that’s serious about a World Series run will want to trade for Lee, which means that the Phillies could trade Lee for the second time in five years within the next three weeks.