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.