Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com on Friday afternoon that he is open to trade offers for a range of Phillies players, including left-handed starter Cliff Lee. But that specific situation just got a bit complicated.
According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lee has been scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Tigers because of a stiff neck. Raul Valdes will take the mound in his place.
Some have suggested that Lee’s scratching might be part of a sudden push by the Phillies to execute a trade — the 34-year-old ace would be rested and ready to pitch right away if dealt to a new team — but there’s been no indication of that being the case.
Lee, 34, has a 3.05 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 131/22 K/BB ratio in 144 2/3 innings this season for the 49-53 Phillies. He’s owed $50 million in 2014-2015 and carries a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016. Crasnick notes that the Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, Indians and Braves are seeking a frontline starter.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.