Pretty much backing up Jon Heyman’s report from earlier this afternoon, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that the Phillies are interested in re-acquiring Cliff Lee.
The Phillies obviously have other needs to fill after the loss of Chase Utley and lingering concerns about Placido Polanco’s elbow — and they have shown interest in Miguel Tejada and Ty Wigginton, according to Rosenthal — but they also want to upgrade their rotation, with a focus on “top-of-the-rotation types rather than fourth and fifth starters.”
Lee certainly fits that description, and according to one major league source, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “will not cut off his nose to spite his face” by refusing to re-acquire the left-hander. In other words, he won’t let his pride stand in the way.
Ultimately, like with most teams in talks with the Mariners, it will come down to how much Lee will cost in the form of prospects. In turn, sources tell Rosenthal that the Phillies view themselves as “a longshot.” Rosenthal writes that they would likely have to give up top prospect Domonic Brown in order to re-acquire Lee, something they are understandably reluctant to do.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.