File this report under extremely unlikely but I know you had the same thought, in fact I am sure of it. I am also sure that the followers of the other 29 teams in baseball had the same thought, Cliff Lee. Yes and please.
The Philadelphia Phillies have placed the 34-year old left handed ace on waivers, a common practice for teams in August to gauge potential interest and trade value. Almost every player will likely be put through the same process as without clearing waivers in August a team cannot move that player in a trade.
Lee’s contract – which, depending on whether an option vests, will be three years for $87.5 million or four years for $102.5 million. That will mean he likely clears waivers, as most executives and prominent baseball writers have suggested.
Lee also has a limited no-trade clause in which he can reject a trade to 21 teams, who is on that list remains, a mystery. Although I cannot say with any certainty one would have to assume that the only Canadian franchise in baseball is not among his “go to” teams.
If he is available for the right price I wonder if Alex Anthopoulos will kick tires to see if Cliff Lee would possibly be open to the idea of playing in the big smoke? Would it be as simple as guaranteeing the option year in his contract, or would the Jays have to up the ante and possibly add another year on top of that at a premium rate?
What type of package would the Phillies get if the Blue Jays ate the entire contract? We know the system is currently ripe with top prospects that teams currently covet given the cost controlled benefits. We also know the Phillies know a couple Blue Jays prospects well, Travis d’Arnaud and Anthony Gose.
Would the Jays entertain trading one of its two best prospects for the grizzled Lee – if he were amicable to becoming an honorary hoser? Would the price perhaps be significantly lower if Toronto picked up the entire tab?
Again this entire read could be moot as Cliff Lee might not be a) available or b) willing to waive his no-trade protection to come to a team playing .500 baseball and a starting rotation in shambles. But if any of the above scenarios were a possibility Cliff Lee would be a game changing addition for the next 2-3 seasons.
Ignore the win-loss record, a truly useless way to value a pitcher and Cliff Lee is the same crazy good pitcher he has been over the past few dominant years. Solid strikeout rate (8.5 K/9), walk rate (1.7 BB/9) and a career best ground ball rate (48%).
In short, he would be an insane addition.
Anybody else tempted?
**UPDATE** Reports suggest the Los Angeles Dodgers may have in fact put in a waiver claim. The Phillies are not expected to complete a trade with L.A. however.