Report: Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee on waivers

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6:20 p.m. EDT Update: FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that the Dodgers were awarded the claim on Lee, but he added that any sort of deal remains unlikely.

The Dodgers as the claiming team make a lot of sense. They were expected to put in a big bid for Cole Hamels this winter, a route that is no longer open to them now that Hamels has signed an extension with the Phillies.

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It doesn’t mean anything is going to happen — in fact, it probably makes it less likely that something is going to happen — but Cliff Lee has been claimed on waivers, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.

In a normal case, the claim would give the Phillies three options: to pull the player back, to try to work out a trade with the claiming team or to simply let the player go on waivers. Lee’s no-trade clause, however, applies to a waiver claim just as it would a deal; if the team that claimed him is one of the 21 teams Lee has on the no-trade, then the Phillies wouldn’t be able to let him go without his permission.

Since the Phillies can now deal with just one team instead of potentially multiple suitors, it’d seem to make a Lee deal less likely. Of course, if they want out of his contract badly enough, they could just let him go, assuming the team isn’t on his no-trade, but indications before the deadline were that they wanted significant talent back in return for Lee.

Lee is due about $7 million over the rest of this year, $25 million each of the next three years and then $27.5 million or a $12.5 million buyout in 2016, so the team that claimed him has some guts. He currently stands to be baseball’s highest-paid pitcher from 2013-15.

Update: The first of the denials is in. A source told WEEI’s Rob Bradford that the Red Sox are not the claiming team.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”