Cliff Lee has already begun throwing off a mound

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that rehabbing left-hander Cliff Lee — who was limited to 13 starts in 2014 due to a flexor pronator strain in his pitching elbow — has already thrown off a mound three or four times this month without experiencing any issues. Lee is expected to be ready for the start of spring training and will become trade bait this summer if he can prove that he’s fully healthy.

Lee is owed $25 million in 2015 and his contract carries a $27.5 million option (with a $12.5 million buyout) for 2016, so he’ll have to pitch well in order for the rebuilding Phillies to get something for him.

The 36-year-old southpaw had a 3.65 ERA and 8.0 K/9 in 81 1/3 innings last season.

He registered a 2.87 ERA and 9.0 K/9 across 222 2/3 innings in 2013.