Will Cliff Lee claim he was blindsided?

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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.

Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline: National League Central

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Manny Machado’s trade completed, the rest of baseball can now turn its attention to the non-blue chip players on the market.

Yesterday, in our look-ahead to the second half, we mentioned some of the top players likely to be made available. Today we look at each team to see who is buying, who is selling, what they’re seeking and what they have to offer. Note: almost every contender, always, needs relief help.

As a reminder, the non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31. Players traded after that date but before August 31 need to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded. All players traded before August 31 are eligible to be on their new team’s playoff roster should they make the postseason.

Next up, the National League Central:

Cubs
Status: Buyers
Wanted: They could use a lot of pitching. They could get in-house help in this regard with Yu Darvish coming back, but they have no idea what they’ll get from him at this point. You have to assume they’ll be in the conversation for any starter out there.

Brewers
Status: Buyers. They were another of the finalists on Manny Machado.
Wanted: One of the few teams who does not need bullpen help, the Brewers could really use a bat, either at short or in the outfield.

Cardinals
Staus: I have no idea
Huh?  I mean, they just fired their manager which suggests the season is kind of a loss, but they’re only four games out in the Wild Card race which suggests that, no it is not. On one, vague level they’re like the Rays, who will likely seek good deals regardless of whether they are short term or long term. On another level they’re the Cardinals, and the Cardinals are almost always in win-now mode. If a pitcher can be had, figure they’ll try to grab one.

Pirates
Status: Sellers. They finished hot in the first half and are only 5.5. back in the Wild Card, but this front office does not strike me as one that’s gonna go for broke here.
For Sale: Assuming they fall out of contention, they’ll likely accept offers for any number of veterans, including Jordy Mercer, David Freese, Corey Dickerson and Ivan Nova.

Reds
Status: Sellers, because that awful start kind of buried them, though can we tip our cap to them for the run they’ve been on of late? *tip*
For Sale: They’ve done a pretty good job of making Matt Harvey look respectable, so flipping him seems to make sense. Any number of relievers would make sense. Billy Hamilton seems like a good change-of-scenery candidate who could be a lethal weapon for a playoff contender if judiciously deployed.