Cliff Lee, the topic of hot trade talks right before the trade deadline passed, has been placed on waivers by the Phillies. It may seem like a big news story, but it’s really not. It’s common for teams to place players on the
waiver wire during the period in which they can pull said player back. It’s a ploy designed to gauge interest in the player and the possibility of that player clearing waivers to allow for a trade.
Lee is owed about $7.525 million for the rest of this season, but he will make $25 million in each of his next three seasons and has a vesting option for a 2017 with $27.5 million. The Phillies did not seem willing to absorb any of that contract, so if they are trying to pull off a waiver trade, they still likely won’t take on any of Lee’s owed salary.
For that very reason, Lee will probably clear waivers. If he does, he will be eligible to be traded. This tactic gives the Phillies a lot more time to find a new home for their incredibly expensive left-handed ace. If they did not place him on waiver and simply waited until the offseason to start talking with teams again, their window of opportunity will, of course, have shrunk by half a season.
Cliff Lee is not having a stellar year by any stretch. He has a 3.73 ERA, his highest since 2007. He is still showing some of the talent that made the Phillies sign him to such a big deal in 2010, but so far he has not been worth $21 million, and certainly not worth the upcoming $25 million he will make.
Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ GM, has said the team is trying to to turn the page and move on. However, to do so, they will have to find a way to unload some of the contracts they have on the books. They owed over $95 million to just four players next season – Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay.
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