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.
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.”