Josh Beckett

How about just trading Cliff Lee for Josh Beckett?


(Note: this scenario is presented entirely for fun. This is not an actual rumor or anything that ever figures to happen.)

The Phillies want to save some money and still compete next year. The Red Sox want to move on from Josh Beckett and still maybe contend this year. So, Cliff Lee for Beckett? Anyone?

Lee will make $25 million per year from 2013-15, plus a $27.5 million option or a $12.5 million buyout in 2016. Beckett is owed $15.75 million in 2013 and ’14. So, in making the deal, the Phillies would save $9.25 million each of the next two years and get completely out from under Lee’s 2015 and ’16 salaries.

Strictly as a baseball trade, I think it makes sense. The Phillies can contend next year, and  that extra cash would prove useful in aiding the offense. Neither Lee nor Beckett is lighting it up this year, but both still have pretty good peripherals. Lee is the older of the two by almost two years. The idea of Lee being worth about $9.25 million more than Beckett next year seems right on to me. That extra $37.5 million commitment for 2015 and beyond would be a tough pill for Boston to swallow, though.

Also, a big reason the Red Sox are considering moving Beckett is to attempt to squeeze under the luxury tax threshold. This kind of a trade would likely lock them into the luxury tax for two or three more years.

Of course, even pulling off the trade itself might be impossible. I imagine Boston is one of the 21 teams on Lee’s no-trade list, and it’s doubtful he’d want to trade his comfortable situation in Philadelphia for a spot in the troubled Red Sox clubhouse. Perhaps he could be enticed if the Red Sox offered to pick up his $27.5 million option for 2016, but that’d be a huge commitment for Boston and it still might not work.

Likewise, Beckett has full no-trade protection, and there’s no telling whether he’d be amenable to such a deal.

So, yeah, this isn’t going to happen. Still, I wonder if either team has at least brought it up. All of the Lee and Beckett possibilities getting tossed around these last couple of days have included some talk of the Phillies and Red Sox having to eat salary. The one way to avoid that would be to deal for another high-priced player.

What to watch for on the final day of the regular season

Cole Hamels
AP Photo/LM Otero

Here we are, the final day of the regular season. And every game with playoff implications will start at the same time: 3:05 p.m. ET. What to watch …

American League Wild Card


This is where the most intrigue lies heading into the day. We have the Yankees currently in position for hosting duties, but they’re only one game up on Houston. And then Houston is only one game up on Anaheim. Also at play here is that the Astros are just one game back of the Rangers in the American League West standings. If the Yankees, Astros, and Rangers all win on Sunday the current postseason map stays the same — the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday will be at Yankee Stadium with the Astros visiting. And the Angels would obviously be out. But if the Angels win and the Astros lose, we’ll have a play-in game Monday. And if the Yankees lose, the location of the Wild Card Game on Tuesday could change.

American League West


As we touched on above, the Astros are still in a position to force a tiebreaker for the division if the Angels beat the Rangers again in Arlington. It’ll be Garrett Richards against Cole Hamels in that one. Houston is throwing Lance McCullers vs. Robbie Ray in Arizona.

American League Best Record


If the AL Central-champion Royals (94-67) beat the Twins on Saturday behind deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto, they’ll get the Wild Card Game winner in the ALDS and clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason. But if they lose, the Blue Jays (93-68) could move into that top seed because they won their season series against Kansas City 4-3. Mark Buehrle is pitching for Toronto in what is supposed to be his final major league game.

National League Wild Card


Pittsburgh losing and Chicago winning on Saturday kept Wild Card Game hosting duties alive for Wrigley Field. If the Pirates fall again to the Reds and the Cubs win at Miller Park, the game Wild Card Game Wednesday will be in Chicago because the Cubs have the season-series edge (11-8) over the Bucs. Pittsburgh can wrap up clinching duties with a victory behind J.A. Happ.

Stay tuned. We’ll be covering all angles as the 2015 regular season comes to a close.

Video: Joey Votto tips his cap to A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

There was a pretty cool moment in Saturday’s game between the Reds and Pirates.

A.J. Burnett has announced that this will be his final season, so his start Saturday at PNC Park might have been the last time he ever pitches off a major league mound. (Pittsburgh has to make it through the Wild Card Game to get the 38-year-old right-hander another turn).

Aware of all this, Joey Votto made eye contact with Burnett just before his at-bat in the top of the first inning and gave a tip of the cap. Er, batting helmet …