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.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.