Should Phillies give Lee Sabathia money?

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cliff lee and carlos ruiz.jpgThe Philadelphia Phillies are already talking about a possible extension for Cliff Lee, who immediately became the team’s ace and postseason star after Philly acquired the left-hander from Cleveland in a July trade.

From the Inquirer:

The Phillies have not yet decided whether to offer a contract extension to pitcher Cliff Lee this off-season, but they have discussed the possibility internally.

“Clearly, it’s on our minds, but we haven’t made a decision if we will yet,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Naturally you have to think about it, but we’re more focused on him pitching in this series.”

Lee is 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA with the Phils this season, and 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the 2009 playoffs. The Phillies can bring Lee back in 2010 simply by exercising their $9 million option, which has to be a slam dunk if an agreement on an extension isn’t reached.

But how far will they be willing to go to sign Lee long term? A couple of things to consider: Lee is 31, and the Phillies are already on the hook for at least $108 million in payroll for 2010 (they spent $113 million this season). That counts Lee’s option, but not arbitration raises for players like Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

The fact they’re already talking about it shows the Phillies are eager to keep Lee, and rightly so. Ideally the Phillies and Lee can find common ground on a mutually-pleasing deal. But what if that doesn’t work out?

Should they be willing to give Lee a Sabathia-esque 7-year, $161-million deal, or should they just take the option and see how 2010 plays out?

What do you think Phillies fans?

Follow me on Twitter at @Bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.