The Philadelphia Phillies won't be looking to trade anytime soon and when they are ready, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon will come at an 'very high' price, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman quotes a text from Amaro:
"Yes. But I'm not trading anyone.''
At 36-40, 7 1/2 games back, and within (reasonable?) striking distance of the Braves it makes sense to wait a few more weeks to see if a sell-off is premature.
Heyman describes the situation:
Amaro's position is understandable at this time, what with nobody running away yet in the NL East (though the Braves generally have played well). A few days later the Phillies are no better off, at 36-40, and 7 1/2 games out, and while Amaro still may not trade anyone at this moment, people familiar with their situation suggest they may consider dealing a few veterans if things don't improve in the next few weeks -- though they'd be much more inclined to move some than others.
It's not just that Cliff Lee is amazing and the Phillies would miss his services for his age 35-36-37 seasons (heh), it's that his contract would require the Phillies to eat so much of it that moving him and getting any worthwhile prospect in return could be near-impossible. Philly still owes Lee $76 million and owes Papelbon $33 million through 2015 -- and more to each through 2016 if you consider vesting options.
Complicating matters, Cliff Lee has a 21-team no trade clause as Jeff Passan points out. 21 teams!
Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky
Still, this is a world in which Ruben Amaro gets paid to make baseball decisions so maybe it is possible. Passan suggests Boston could make a play for Lee:
The team with the greatest incentive among the buyers to chase Lee is Boston, particularly in light of Jon Lester's struggles, Clay Bucholz's flagging health and the inconsistency of Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront that has left – gulp – John Lackey as the team's most consistent starter at the moment.
I asked Liz Roscher of The Good Phight if she thought either could be traded:
Both Lee and Papelbon have a fair amount left on their contracts, but they both happen to be very, very good at what they do. It's not like they're trying to move Ryan Howard, here. They're owed a lot, but they could actually be worth it.
So unlike Howard, teams want Lee and Paps and they'd be willing to pay for them. I think the Philies can eat enough on both contracts to get them down to a reasonable amount for trade partners and still get a decent return.
Liz wanted to say more but she broke down:
WHY GOD WHY GIVE US CLIFF LEE ONLY TO TAKE HIM AWAY... TWICE!?!?! WAAAAAAH
Seriously this is going to suck.
Yes, yes it will Liz. Even if Lee and Papelbon are immovable, Chase Utley and Michael Young aren't. Sorry, Phillies fans. It's probably going to get worse before it gets better, but offloading some of those contracts might help. Eventually.