If the Philadelphia Phillies fall out of contention in the National League East as the summer approaches, left-handed starting pitcher Cliff Lee could find himself as a prime trade target of teams with playoff aspirations. Beyond Lee, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly notes that the Phillies could also make veterans including Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young available.
Lee figures to garner specific interest considering his track record and the fact that he's under contract beyond 2013. He's certainly pricey -- as he's owed $25 million this year and another $62.5 million beyond that -- but teams may be more willing to surrender the prospects Philadelphia will covet since Lee won't be a rental.
Salisbury specifically notes that the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox could be teams to watch if Lee is made available. The Red Sox checked in on the veteran southpaw over the winter, but the Phillies turned them away.
Lee does have a limited no-trade clause, but this hasn't stopped significant trades in the past. If he were able to join a contender and help the Phillies in the process, you'd have to think that the veteran would at least consider it.
So far this season, Lee's posted a 3.46 ERA over six appearances. In 12 seasons in the majors, the 34-year-old owns a career ERA of 3.59 with a WHIP of 1.209 and a 3.66 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Looking for fantasy baseball advice?