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Cliff Lee has a no-trade clause that blocks 20 teams

Jun 4, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Cliff Lee AP AP

Cliff Lee is doing his usual thing, going 7-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 74/13 K/BB ratio in 12 starts, and with the Phillies stuck below .500 it’s natural to speculate about Philadelphia potentially trading the ace left-hander.

However, that may not be so easy. Jon Morosi of reports that Lee’s contract has a no-trade clause covering 20 of the 29 other teams, including all the usual suspects like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers. In other words, he picked all the teams most likely to trade for him.

Of course, that doesn’t rule out a trade to those 20 teams, it just means Lee would have to be talked (or otherwise financially motivated) into accepting a deal. He’s also owed about $77.5 million for the next two-and-a-half seasons, so while Lee remains one of the elite starters in baseball his price tag could take some interested teams out of the running even before the Phillies’ asking price comes up.

  1. psuorioles - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    I wonder if the Orioles are on that list?

    • southpaw2k - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      Morosi’s article does list the Orioles as on Lee’s no-trade list. I doubt Duquette would try making a deal anyway, considering what the Phillies would want in return plus the amount of money left on Lee’s contract.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      To be honest, I don’t think the Orioles would want him anyways. Just like last year, they’d love to add a pitcher, but not at the cost of top prospects, or too big of a contract hit. Making a major move like this just doesn’t seem to be part of their plan at the moment, and I’m kind of happy for it. Keep building from within, and if something too good to pass up falls into our lap, take it, but don’t mortgage the farm.

      • psuorioles - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        I agree with you about not mortgaging the future, but who is to say the Phillies would be asking for the world for him? I could see them asking for B – C level prospects and taking on most of his contract… That is something I would be interested in…

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Ironic, that this pops up on my news feed.

        Basically, the O’s don’t want to spend anything that will hinder them beyond this year. No taking on big contracts, no selling of top prospects. With a core group that is pretty young, the team doesn’t feel the need to go all in just yet, when they can simply add a few side pieces.

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      “I could see them asking for B – C level prospects and taking on most of his contract… That is something I would be interested in…”

      That is something 27 other MLB teams would be interested in, too. (I left out the Marlins for obvious reasons)

    • purplerider012 - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      The O’s do not want high price talent that is on the down side in another year

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      the Phillies can keep him!

  2. chill1184 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Im sure if the right team came by Lee would be willing to play ball with the Phillies in waving the clause

    • kevinbnyc - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Then why would he bother having a no-trade clause?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM


      • kevinbnyc - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        Right, but if all it takes is the “right team” to come along, why wouldn’t all of your “right teams” be the ones that you wouldn’t block a trade to? I get that he signed the contract a few years ago, but he had to know that he wouldn’t want to play for the Marlins (for example) since they’re perpetual non-contenders.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        You put some teams on your NTC so you never have to go there, a la the Marlins. You put other teams on your NTC so they have to offer you an incentive to drop the NTC. For instance, if the Yanks want him, maybe they have to extend his deal, or maybe they make his ’16 option guaranteed?

      • jwbiii - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        I think guaranteeing his option would do it.

  3. stephenolszewski - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    I wish the Indians could get him back but we have nothing to offer, a one two punch of Lee and Masterson would be so nice

    • purplerider012 - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      No body wants to be in Cleveland trust me

  4. beefytrout - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Let him stay where he is. Clearly it’s where he wants to be.

  5. kevbarnett - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Trading away Lee basically says the Phillies won’t contend until after 2016. Lee is a great pitcher but paying a great pitcher $25M to pitch on a mediocre team is not smart. Phillies need to move him for top tier prospect who can start at 3B, RF, or 2B. A few guys I would target…

    OF Nick Castellanos – Detroit Tigers
    3B Mike Olt – Texas Rangers
    2B Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles

    • clarkd9100 - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      I agree that maybe the Phillies should try to get Castellanos but as a Tigers fan we don’t want Cliff Lee. He would be our highest paid pitcher and starting pitching is already a major strength for us. We need a closer not a starter

      • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        You don’t even need to be a fan to know that the Tigers’ FO is not going for that.

      • biasedhomer - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        Oh don’t worry, Phillies got you covered! You can get Papelbon!

    • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      There is no way the Phillies are getting a Castellanos/Schoop type prospect unless they pick up a large chunk of the remaining contract.

      Almost no team would take Lee if all they had to do was pay the rest of his contract….teams just don’t have $30M/year laying around to pay a pitcher.

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        “teams just don’t have $30M/year laying around to pay a pitcher.”

        The Yankees would, but they’re stuck with Arod’s $38M/year. And the Dodgers might, but they’re stuck with Adrian Gonzalez’s $27M/year.

      • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Right. Most teams that find they have $30M laying around spend it in a hurry.

    • psuorioles - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      I think the O’s would certainly consider trading Schoop for Lee.

    • dakotaandotter - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Detroit doesn’t need a starter. The Phillies don’t need a 2B – they have Utley with Hernandez waiting in the wings and Mike Olt has been talked about as a top prospect for how many years? The Phillies could use a 3B, and OF and some relief pitching.

      • kevbarnett - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        Hernandez is a ok option at 2B but Freddy Galvis is certainly the better option. You’re right, Mike Olt has been talked about as being a top prospect for along time. Do you know who else was in the same boat? Current NL HR leader Domonic Brown.

      • dakotaandotter - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        kev, Hernandez will be a much better hitter than Galvis although Galvis is a better glove. However, he’s a natural SS and will replace Rollins after next year. I go to a lot of games and you can tell just watching him that Hernandez is going to be a player. As far as Dom Brown goes, you’re right. You never know and I’m glad the Phillies didn’t get rid of him.

    • purplerider012 - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      Schoop is hurt, no way the O’s trading him hurt or not for Lee, way over priced

  6. greymares - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Lee will not be traded ! With him Hammels, Kendrick and a possible healthy Halladay at a reasonable price the Phillies will be prepared to re-load losing contracts of Rollins,Utley,Ruiz, Young and Young. Hopefully a Joseph, Asche, Galvis and Hernandez will be capable replacement the bullpen is youthful and will improve they need to beef up the outfield and are back in contention in the National League East (not that they are out of it yet) the Braves and Nationals are not necessarily jaugernauts.and when you make the playoffs it’s all a crap shoot.

    • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      I’m curious. How is this re-loading going to happen. They have very few assets with trade value, their farm system isn’t exactly teeming with prospects right now, and the upcoming FA classes all look horrible.

  7. kevbarnett - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Greymares: You just said the Phillies can contend after losing Rollins, Ruiz, Utley, Delmon Young, and Michael Young by replacing them with Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Tommy Joseph. Obviously those guys are the next inline to fill in but I doubt any of those players will equal the performance of the original players. The Phillies are an aging team that need to turn the page on a championship run that emptied the farm system of quality players, brought on huge contracts, and only one World Series. Unload contracts, reload the farm system and start over.

    “We can rebuild him…we have the technology”

    • evanwins - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      “Only won one World Series”

      Yeah, what losers! They only won 1 WS. They should have won them all, right?

      • kevbarnett - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Yes, winning only one World Series from 2007-2011 is not what the FO or fans expected when they wen’t all in making splashy trades to put them over the top.

      • xmatt0926x - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        evan, you are correct. About 99% of the league would gladly take the poor ol’ Phillies run of “only one” world series title to go along with the rest of the success they had during this core’s run. Outside of San Fran and St. Louis, i’m not sure who could claim a better last 6 years than the Phillies. Sure they wanted more. Why wouldn’t they. It’s not that easy as we Phillies fans have learned and fans from Texas have learned as well as the Nats fans who are learning now. You need a lot of good players and a hell of a lot more good fortune.

      • dakotaandotter - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        I never expected the Phillies to automatically win another WS with the trades or signings we made. There is never a guarantee, only an improving of the odds of making the playoffs. The Phillies won a WS and lost a WS in 08-09 when they had the 5th best record in baseball. They had the best record in both 10-11 and didn’t get into the WS either year. St. Louis was tied for the 8th best record in 2011 and the Giants had the 5th best in 10 and tied for 4th in 12. My point is it’s all about getting in because then anything can happen. In both 08 and 09 the Phillies barely got in. Since 1999 only the 2009 Yankees had the best regular season record all by themselves and won the WS.

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      “emptied the farm system”

      This gets repeated a lot, like no one wants to look at who they actually traded away. Who are we missing? Bourn was traded for Lidge. Gio Gonzalez was traded for Freddy Garcia back in ’06… other than that, who is it that they traded away that would be playing this year or next?

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        *”emptied the farm system of quality players”

    • purplerider012 - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      the Phillies are in a big hole they dug themselves in, giving Lee, Hammels that kind money , insanity is a low level way of putting, the GM must be hiding in the woods but its more not havin g luck then talent there, no matter how talent you have, no luck no go

  8. evanwins - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    He’s not going anywhere unless a really ridiculous offer comes the Phillies way.

    The Phillies don’t care about the money they need to pay him and they have shown they won’t do a deal where they have to pick up remaining payroll. They’ll pay you to come to Philly but not too leave.

    The Phillies FO is maybe a bit delusional but they think they can win. Last years late run and their 6 year history of really dominating the 2nd half will factor into keeping him.

    They also believe they will remain competitive for the next few years without a complete rebuild. TV money on it’s way factors into this.

    Pitching is at a premium and there won’t be a pitcher like Lee available in FA for a few years. So even if you have money you won’t be able to buy pitching.

    Fans still come out. Maybe not like in 2010 but they still pack the park. They don’t want to jeopardize that further than they have.

    So unless some team comes with a really amazing offer that will impact their Major League team this year or next year, Lee stays a Phillie.

    • dakotaandotter - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      I agree pretty much with everything you said. We can’t emphasize enough the point about the TV money that’s going to come in. The thing to be more concerned about is attendance. I am a season ticket holder and closely track the resale market and right now it is very bad. Unless this team does a quick turnaround you can expect a 3,000-5,000 drop in attendance next year and it could be more. People selling their unused tickets on StubHub are getting killed.

  9. scotttheskeptic - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Bad news, Grey, Rollins will be here until 2015 (with 10/5 rights). I don’t like it, but Amaro panicked in the 2011/12 off-season and we are stuck with Mr. Rollins.

    • greymares - Jun 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      you have to pay him, but sit him and he will beg to go.

  10. sportsnut101 - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Don’t forget Howard contract to. Good luck phillies everyone on the cant make 20 plus mill

  11. mrbullgator - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    This is probably a long shot but if the rays could get Lee and Brown for Price and Myers that would be interesting to see how that unfolded. Rays aren’t going to be able to afford Price, and if the Phillies sent over some cash with the two it could be doable.

    • dakotaandotter - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      So basically you’re saying the Phillies get one quality pitcher while paying for two and they get a prospect while giving up a guy who leads the NL in homers.

  12. drunkenhooliganism - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Hopefully Ruben will remember how outraged the fanbase was when Lee was traded last time. Cliff Lee is loved here. Cliff Lee is a reason people buy tickets. I don’t think they need to trade him for financial reasons, in fact, I think they would take a big hit in attendance and all that crap (just look at how many Lee jerseys you see at every game). Not $70M worth of a hit, but a hit.

    How much will a team offer in the way of players to get him once the contract is considered? I don’t see how it makes much sense for the phillies to trade him. Now, someone just needs to disconnect Ruben’s phone.

  13. paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    It will be interesting to see what happens in this situation if Lee is even made available. Philly (since Amaro took over, anyway) is usually the team on the other end of these types of deals. Those deals often work because Philly has money to spend and they didn’t seem to mind trading away their prospects…..which is fine, prospects are there to help the big club, either by their play on the field or by being traded to improve the big league roster.

    How will a deal work in the other direction? Amaro may not understand why the other team won’t take on all or most of the contract or why they value their prospects so much. It may be hard for teams to agree on either the money or the players….and I don’t see Philly doing a roster dump (getting essentially nothing in return if a team will take on 80% or so of Lee’s remaining salary).

  14. xmatt0926x - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    I don’t know how easy a trade for a guy like Lee will be but the no-trade is meaningless. Of course the 5 or 6 teams who could actually take on a guy like Lee will be on that list. It’s leverage and nothing more. If a big money/contendingt team wants him, he’ll go. He’s already said that this year and he wants a ring. His time is running out.

    It will be interesting. I don’t see the Phillies eating a good chunk of the rest of his deal , even for a blue-chip prospect, Why would they? They’re going to eat maybe $30 or so million for a prospect? At the same time who is going to take on that money and give anything of real value away? We shall see. I think the Phillies will be sellers, if possible. Right now they are Dom Brown and nothing else… and he can’t do this forever.

    • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Why would they eat $30M for a prospect? Because the alternative is no prospect and paying a guy $77M for the next 2.5 years. Eating $30M would save them $47M and bring a prospect back.

  15. 13arod - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    i heard that cleavand wanted him and they aren’t on his no trade list if i was him and the phills traded him back to cleavland i would say f*ck no

    • jwbiii - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      But that’s kind of the point of a no trade list. If Cleveland isn’t on it, then he can’t say “No” or “Guarantee my option.”

  16. dodgerblue1 - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Andre Ethier for Cliff Lee…Would be interesting, but Ethier is in year 2 of an $85M contract. Historically, he’s been a stud and is still young enough to get things done in Philly.

    • dluvlablue - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      I would love to deal Either for Lee! I wish we could have picked him up the second year we lost to the Phillies in the NLCS a few years back! How about we throw in League! lol

  17. cambodianbreastmilk - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Padres should trade for him. They have the space and farm system to make something happen. Lee at Petco would be ridiculous. Plus, they have plenty of that fishing stuff he likes to do. Make it happen. #doesnthurttodreamlol

  18. bigdogpappad - Jun 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Be careful what you ask for, Fluffer Lee got exactly what he asked for and he deserves to stay in Philadelphia or some other non-contender making $25M

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