It almost worked once for the Texas Rangers. Why not try it again?
That the two-time World Series runner-ups are in need of pitching is no secret. Having recently placed Nick Tepesch to a nine-strong DL with neither Matt Harrison or Colby Lewis close to a return, the biggest problem for the Rangers these days is the same one that’s plagued them over the rise of this near-dynasty in the AL West:
And they’ve been working towards addressing that problem too. Having been involved in rumors over Matt Garza according to Ken Rosental of FOX Sports, the Rangers are one of a number of teams who have to believe that the acquisition of an impact pitcher might just put them over the top.
Kind of reminds you of 2010, no?
You know what else happened that year? They acquired an ace by the name of Cliff Lee, who just about single-handedly carried them all the way to the World Series with a string of stellar starts in the postseason that year, only to fall short against eventual champion San Francisco Giants (to be fair, he did have one major mishap in the WS before recovering in the deciding game in a valiant, but losing effort).
And as luck would have it, Cliff Lee might just be available again in 2013.
As much as it’s not a secret what the Rangers need to take their chances to the next level, the same could be said about what the Philadelphia Phillies‘ options are when it comes to the 2013 season and this time, a move to acquire Lee might end up being even more viable than when they spent then-top prospect Justin Smoak for a few months of the lefty.
For one, Lee is a few years older at 34, and the fact that he’ll be paid $25 million per year through his age-36 season in 2015 might actually work against his acquisition cost.
Sure, a suitor like the Rangers would be getting two more years of what is likely to be solid production, but this is a pitcher with declining velocity (90.8 mph average vs. 91.7 in 2012), and the Phillies have plenty of motivation to be shedding their expensive contracts (I’m looking at you, Ryan Howard) as they attempt to figure out how to re-open their window into contender status.
Unless they’re willing to eat a significant amount of the lefty’s salary, the acquisition cost for Lee might not be as high as perceived. This is not to mention the (admittedly minor) factor of past success between Lee and Texas.
While Jon Daniels isn’t exactly the type of GM that’s all about big contracts, getting into the Cliff Lee sweepstakes fits into his MO as it represents a reasonable risk in terms of years of commitment, and it’s unlikely to cost the Rangers a marquee prospect (ie. not Jurickson Profar or Martin Perez … the latter of whom would defeat the purpose) to get it done.
Besides, he’s already done it once before, so …