In perhaps the least surprising decision of all time, the new Philadelphia Phillies GM Matt Klentak has declined the club's $27.5 million option for the 2016 season on left-hander Cliff Lee. Instead the Phillies will pay him a $12.5 million buyout to not play for them.
Lee only started 13 games in 2014 due to an elbow strain. That strain grew worse and Lee was diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon in March. Given the option to have surgery, which could have ended his career, or rehab the injury, Lee went against his doctors' advice and chose the latter. He missed all of 2015. The 37-year-old is 143-91 in his career with a 3.52 ERA in 13 career big league seasons.
If he decides to continue playing Lee is entering a starting pitching market loaded with top-end talent and almost certainly will not be a candidate for a guaranteed contract. He may have to wait a while before teams circle back to him. Being a lefty should help generate some interest in the 2008 Cy-Young award winner, as teams are always looking for balance in their rotations so long as he is willing to sign a minor-league deal.
Even at age 37, if he's reasonably healthy, he could catch lightning in a bottle and provide quality innings before his elbow explodes. But, given his recent history, that could happen at any time.