It’s a safe bet that Cliff Lee never guessed the Phillies would be considering dealing him barely a year and a half into a five-year, $120 million contract.
Lee picked Philly over competitive offers from the Rangers and Yankees because he wanted to be back in Phildelphia, even though the Phillies had already traded him once. Now it looks like it may well happen again.
Lee does have a partial no-trade clause that covers 21 teams. One presumes he put all of the clubs likely to acquire him on that list, leaving off unlikely possibilities such as Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and so on. If that is how he went about it, then he’d have the right to refuse a deal to his likely suitors: the Rangers and Dodgers. But if Lee is feeling unwanted in Philly, maybe he’d be willing to go. Maybe he’d simply ask for his 2016 vesting option, worth $27.5 million, to be picked up as part of a deal.
Or maybe not. There’s no reason to think the Phillies won’t bounce back and return to contention with a Roy Halladay-Lee-Cole Hamels rotation next year. Philadelphia is where Lee wanted to be 19 months ago. One rough year may not have changed that.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.