Ken Rosenthal suggests, in his Full Count video posted today, that the Phillies could trade lefty starter Cliff Lee if they’re not in the playoff hunt near the July 31 trade deadline. The Phillies placed Lee on waivers last year and he was claimed by the Dodgers, but nothing ever became of it. It’s standard practice for teams to put players, even those of Lee’s caliber, on waivers, so not too much should be read into it, but the Phillies could even choose to move Lee after the deadline in August.
Lee shouldn’t be the only player the Phillies trade if they’re out of the race, though. The Phillies owe nearly $105 million to six players in 2014 and have one of baseball’s more barren Minor League systems. Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Michael Young, and Carlos Ruiz can all become free agents after the season, and the Phillies should consider trading all of them by the deadline if their playoff aspirations have evaporated.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.