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Should Phillies give Lee Sabathia money?

Nov 4, 2009, 9:32 PM EDT

cliff lee and carlos ruiz.jpgThe Philadelphia Phillies are already talking about a possible extension for Cliff Lee, who immediately became the team’s ace and postseason star after Philly acquired the left-hander from Cleveland in a July trade.

From the Inquirer:

The Phillies have not yet decided whether to offer a contract extension to pitcher Cliff Lee this off-season, but they have discussed the possibility internally.

“Clearly, it’s on our minds, but we haven’t made a decision if we will yet,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Naturally you have to think about it, but we’re more focused on him pitching in this series.”

Lee is 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA with the Phils this season, and 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the 2009 playoffs. The Phillies can bring Lee back in 2010 simply by exercising their $9 million option, which has to be a slam dunk if an agreement on an extension isn’t reached.

But how far will they be willing to go to sign Lee long term? A couple of things to consider: Lee is 31, and the Phillies are already on the hook for at least $108 million in payroll for 2010 (they spent $113 million this season). That counts Lee’s option, but not arbitration raises for players like Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

The fact they’re already talking about it shows the Phillies are eager to keep Lee, and rightly so. Ideally the Phillies and Lee can find common ground on a mutually-pleasing deal. But what if that doesn’t work out?

Should they be willing to give Lee a Sabathia-esque 7-year, $161-million deal, or should they just take the option and see how 2010 plays out?

What do you think Phillies fans?

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  1. Cru11 - Nov 4, 2009 at 10:14 PM

    I dont see the harm in just exercising the 2010 option and seeing how that plays out then sign him for the long haul if you want. Either way the Phils absolutely need Lee next season. The Phils wouldnt be where they are without Lee. Enough said.

  2. Mike Mariano - Nov 4, 2009 at 10:16 PM

    I don’t think Cliff is going to get Sabathia money, he’s two years older to begin with. I think something in the five year range would be much more appropriate and a fantastic investment if the Phillies could get it done.

  3. BIGBRUCE11047 - Nov 5, 2009 at 12:32 AM

    I don’t think it’s time to think about giving Lee a long-term contract. In 2008 Cliff Lee won 20-plus games and won the American League Cy Young Award but Cleveland ends up trading him to the Phillies in July for a handful of minor league players because he wasn’t having the same kind of season. Lee could be given his 2010 option and see what kind of season he has before offering him “Big” money. Just because he was 4-0 in the post-season this season does not mean he will ever get back to the World Series again. Let’s see what happens in 2010.

  4. Mo Green - Nov 5, 2009 at 4:15 AM

    What happens in 2010 if you just exercise his option is that you almost certainly lose him. Hold on, let me massage my crystal ball.
    Phillies lock up Cliff Lee, 5 years, $90 million, with a mutual $20 million option year. So shall it be.

  5. John Felske - Nov 5, 2009 at 5:41 AM

    I agree with 5 at 90 with the option for another 20 million. If Hamels rounds back into shape, having the two of them at the top of the rotation would be great.

  6. Mike Z - Nov 5, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    Lock him up now for around $18 million a year for 5 years. That gives the Phils 3 LHP starting their rotation. Look to trade Hamels or Happ for some relief pitchers. Then go after Lackey with the freed up cash.

  7. Phil - Nov 5, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    When Gillick was GM of the Phillies, he had a policy of not giving contracts longer than 3 years to pitchers. It’ll be interesting to see how Ruben handles a possible extension for Lee.
    No way that we should trade Hamels for relief pitchers. It’s just not worth it, especially given how volatile relief pitchers are year to year. It’ll be more interesting to see what the Phillies do regarding their closer situation. Lidge has 2 more years left.

  8. Damian - Nov 5, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    Good luck signing Lee for 5years/90mm. I am confident any number of teams would give him 6years/120mm.

  9. jonny5 - Nov 5, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    I think that you must be Lee’s agent Damian. LOL!

  10. Danni - Nov 6, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    I would love to see them sign him to a long term deal– I think that it is the best thing to do for the long haul… 5-6 years sounds right (I like the idea of five years with a relatively large mutual or team option for the sixth year, as this gets the Phillies off the hook if age poroves to not be kind). I see this being 5 years 110 mil. with a possible 18-20 mil option on the end. I think that on a per year basis, his worth is up there with Sabathia’s– however, he should not get as long a contract because of his age– he is older than Sabathia was when the contract was signed.
    The other big question here is making the money work for the Phillies– in the 5-6 years such a contract would run, a number of other contracts would come up and need to get done, and if they set the precedent of spending this kind of money, it could lead to an inability to afford to keep key players. I want Lee signed– I think that he is not only the best pitcher they have, but one of the best that is going to be available to them through free agency for the next several years. However, if you ask me whether I want him signed if it costs the team the opportunity to keep Chase Utley and Ryan Howard around– the answer becomes a whole lot harder and I become a lot more split on it.
    As for Hamels… keep him for now– there has been a lot of evidence showing that young pitchers have a slumpy year after they have a great one, and that they generally round back into form– trying to trade him now is selling extremely low and giving up the chance to see him turn it around. Relievers can be found without doing it, his contract is not that bad, and it just makes more sense to keep him than to trade him right now.

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