Cliff Lee-to-Philly imminent?

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ESPN is saying . . .

Three Cleveland scouts — including the club’s director of player
personnel, Steve Lubratich — were in Lehigh Valley to watch the
Phillies’ Triple-A team play an 11 a.m. ET game.

Lehigh Valley starter Carlos Carrasco, who has been a subject of
talks between the two teams, was abruptly scratched from his start in
that game with no explanation from the club.

An official of a team that had been speaking to Cleveland about Lee
told ESPN.com Wednesday morning it was his impression that Lee was
about to be traded elsewhere, and the Phillies’ discussions with
Toronto about Roy Halladay have slowed to a trickle in the last 24
hours.

Many outlets have reported that the Phillies are hellbent on getting a
starter and many more are saying that Halladay is increasingly unlikely
to go anywhere. Not hard to do the math there.

UPDATE: More details on Lee and Philly:

The defending World Series champion have offered the Cleveland
Indians a package of players for Lee, a baseball official familiar with
the trade proposal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Philadelphia’s offer doesn’t include top pitching prospect Kyle
Drabek, the person said on condition of anonymity because negotiations
are ongoing. The non-waiver trade deadline is Friday.

Drabek was a clear dealbreaker for Philly, and their off-limits sign on him is why the Jays won’t deal Halladay.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.