Despite the fact that both Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have seen extended stints on the disabled list in 2014, and neither of them exactly come with a cheap pricetag, there doesn’t seem to be any lack of buzz around them as the July 31st trade-deadline approaches.
The Yankees would surely look at Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels if they were to become available.
However, given that Hamels is still owed a minimum of $96 million after this season and Lee still has a minimum of $37.5 million due to him over the next two seasons, Heyman says there is a catch.
Even the Yankees have a budget, and they liked Samardzija’s contract situation better.
It is worth noting that Heyman wrote all of this, prior to the Yankees acquisition of Brandon McCarthy. Previous reports had indicated that the Yankees preferred to add a middle of the rotation starter over an expensive ace, a mold that McCarthy does fit. That said, McCarthy is 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 2014, so barring a quick turnaround, he may not turn out to be the type of addition that makes the Yankees want to stand pat at the deadline.
If the Yankees are ready to give up a boatload for someone that will front-line their starting rotation with Masahiro Tanaka for the long-term future, and will likely turn out to make similar money to what Samardzija will over the next four or five seasons, then I’m not sure they could find someone better than Hamels. The fact that Hamels has returned from early season arm problems to have one of the best seasons of his career doesn’t hurt his case, either.
In the case of Lee, as I passed along earlier this evening, he is likely to pitch again in the minors sometime during the middle of this week, after his solid two-inning stint was cut short due to rain today. Lee also said that he is feeling ‘100 percent’ now, which is a good sign. In all likelyhood, Lee will make two or three starts before the deadline, assuming that he has no setbacks.
Lee appears to be a more serious fit for the Yankees because I think the Phillies will have more of a willingness to move him than Hamels, and will require less of a return. Lee also seems to be more of an August waiver-trade candidate, which would be in the window of time where the Yankees could get desperate if McCarthy doesn’t work out and they feel that they need to add another starter to keep up with the Blue Jays and Orioles, and make a serious World Series push if they do make the playoffs.