Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Cliff Lee’s career is over

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Cliff Lee hasn’t pitched since the end of July 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow and sat out all last year recovering. His contract ended when the Phillies bought out his 2016 option. In the last month or so word has been that Lee was at least tentatively looking to come back, though it was reported that it would have to be a perfect fit.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, it appears that perfect fit did not present itself. Ken Rosenthal reports that Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, told him, “We don’t anticipate him playing at this point.” Which almost certainly means the end of Cliff Lee’s playing career.

Lee ends his career with a record of 143-91 and a 3.52 ERA (ERA+ of 118) in 2,156.2 innings across 13 seasons. A masterful control pitcher, his K/BB ratio stands at 1,824 to 464. He led the league in the lowest number of walks per nine innings four times in his career. He won the 2008 Cy Young Award while pitching for the Indians and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting on four other occasions. He was also a fantastic postseason pitcher, going 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 postseason starts.

A nice career for Lee. So sad to see it end so soon.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Cliff Lee would need a “perfect fit” to pitch in 2016

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The agent for free agent left-hander Cliff Lee, Darek Braunecker, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday and said that the veteran would need a “perfect fit” to come back and pitch in 2016. Some highlights of Braunecker’s radio spot:

  • Lee is “taking it day-by-day”
  • Lee informed Braunecker that he was going to attempt to make a comeback in 2016
  • It’s going to have to be a “perfect fit” for Cliff and his wife Kristen “from a competitive standpoint, from a financial standpoint, from just an overall opportunistic standpoint”
  • Lee has accustomed himself to being a full-time dad and leaving baseball behind, but Braunecker thinks there’s still “that fire that burns” within Lee — in particular, to win a championship
  • There has been “an enormous amount of interest in the last month”
  • Braunecker has informed teams that they will work “a little bit deeper” into the offseason to make sure that there aren’t any setbacks
  • Lee is working out and has begun his full offseason throwing program
  • Braunecker and Lee are not certain if the lefty is going to do an actual workout or not; it might be a case-by-case basis
  • They intend to make a decision here in the next couple of weeks

Lee, 37, hasn’t pitched since the end of July 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. The Phillies declined his $27.5 million option for the 2016 season, instead buying out that final year for $12.5 million. Lee is certainly looking at just a one-year deal and it would likely be laden with incentives to protect teams in case he suffers another injury.