Ruben Amaro can continue to say how uninterested in trading Cliff Lee he is, but as the Phillies fall further and further away from contention and the trade deadline approaches, the questions are still going to come.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Lee’s 25 million dollar a year salary is going to make it very difficult to trade him, because many contenders simply can’t afford Lee.
There’s always “the list” of pitchers who might become available, but it doesn’t always happen that they actually are available. Sometimes the player acquisition cost is prohibitive. Sometimes the salary restraints make it impossible.
The Baltimore Orioles, sitting a 40-30 and currently leading the first AL Wild Card, are one of the teams that could use Lee but are unlikely to afford him according to Cafardo.
Could the Orioles afford Cliff Lee’s $25 million salary? Well, that’s the type of restraint we’re referring to, which is why (Bud) Norris becomes so valuable.
Even Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette, the Orioles have more needs than just adding starting pitching and are unlikely to ignore other needs to go after one pitcher.
“We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.”
Certainly as the deadline approaches if the Phillies decide that trading Lee is in their best interests and the Orioles can give them the best package of prospects, the Phillies could decide to take on part of Lee’s deal. While it isn’t ideal to have hold onto part of Lee’s deal and not even get the production that you are paying for, if it brings a great package of prospects in return than it seems like a better idea than holding onto Lee and hoping the Phillies magically turn into a contender next season without an influx of young talent. But this idea seems like a long-shot because I think Ruben Amaro would have to be blown away to actually move Lee, and it appears unlikely that he will decide to move Lee if he has to take on part of his salary.