Phillies Rumors: Talk of Cliff Lee to Boston Deal, With Shane Victorino’s Name Brought up


Yeah, you read that title correctly. (Feel free to balk a few more times, though.)

After Sean McAdam of CSN New England reported last week that the Red Sox felt ‘no sense of urgency’ to make a move for Cole Hamels, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had a more thorough update on ace talks between the Red Sox and Phillies. The Red Sox don’t feel a ton of urgency, according to Cafardo, but the Phillies scouted the Red Sox system today, perhaps with the intention of laying the groundwork for a Cliff Lee deal.

"According to all accounts, Lee, 36, has thrown the ball well in Phillies camp after rehabbing an elbow injury. The feeling now is that Lee could be traded ahead of Hamels.The price tag for Lee would be less. He makes $25 million this year and has a player option for $27.5 million in 2016 that can be bought out for $12.5 million. Teams such as the Red Sox would likely want to see Lee pitch a few times in spring training before they’d commit to giving up both player and financial resources for him. But Lee is in play.There had been talk about Shane Victorino going back to Philadelphia, but he is 34, and the Phillies want young talent. Perhaps they would be open to taking on the salary if Boston took on Lee’s salary, but there would also have to be prospects in the deal."

Talk from who? As Cafardo writes, the Phillies want young talent and Victorino doesn’t fit that bill. If his name was brought up in any sort of way in Lee trade talks, the only logical thing for the Phillies to do would be to hang up the phone. Would Victorino be an upgrade over any of the three starting outfielders the Phillies currently have? Probably, but who cares? What good would bringing him back in any capacity, even with prospects, do for the Phillies rebuild? Even if it was with prospects, bringing back a 34 year-old Victorino instead of a lower level prospect, would be symbolically deflating for the Phillies, if nothing else.

As Cafardo goes on to write, the Phillies will need to eat some portion of the $37.5 million remaining on Lee’s deal, which one would assume they would be motivated to do for the right return. If Shane Victorino is the headliner of ‘the right return’, perhaps the Phillies are better served holding onto Lee until the trade deadline and taking on his injury risk. Frankly, the Phillies may be better served having Lee play out this year and buying him out for next year, rather than just giving in for an aging major-leaguer and a few fringe prospects.

None of this is to say that the Phillies should expect or will get a ransom for Lee, but they shouldn’t rush into trading him if it isn’t for some sort of return that poses the chance of helping them down the road. It’s fair to speculate the Phillies could get a much better return than this for a healthy Lee.

Cafardo also says the two teams still have mutual interest in a Cole Hamels deal. For the time being, it appears both have dug their heels in on a return. The Phillies, rightfully so, are holding out for Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart to be included in a deal, something the Red Sox aren’t interested in. Cafardo even says the Phillies would probably move Hamels for a package that led by Xander Bogaerts, something the Red Sox seemingly have not proposed.

Essentially, the Phillies may be best served waiting things out until the deadline to deal Hamels and Lee. I get it, I overreacted to Shane Victorino’s name being mentioned, but it’s frightening to even hear his name brought up given the recent history of the front-office.

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