Ever since his dominant performances in the 2009 postseason, Cliff Lee has been the talk of the baseball world. After the World Series concluded Lee was dealt to Seattle in a three-way trade that saw him replaced by Roy Halladay in Philadelphia, largely due to Philadelphia’s concerns about Lee’s price tag as he approaches free agency at the end of the season. This year all eyes are once again on Lee as we wait to see where he will be traded to as the deadline approaches.
Lee has been outstanding so far for his new club, posting an 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA, and an incredible 14.83 SO/BB ratio. He’s pitched 5 complete games, three of them consecutively in June. As the major league baseball trade deadline approaches (July 31st), Lee is increasing his value by cementing his status as an ace starter in both leagues. Who are the top contenders for Lee’s services
- Minnesota Twins: The Twins are in a battle with the Tigers in the American League Central, and may build a package around catching prospect Wilson Ramos to acquire the ace lefty.
- Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers would probably like to see where they stand as the deadline nears, but they have been known to be aggressive buyers in years past (in 2008 they acquired Lee’s former teammate, CC Sabathia. They could offer a package centered around third baseman Mat Gamel.
- Cincinnati Reds: The Reds are surprise contenders in 2010, and may seek to acquire an ace to help sustain their playoff run. The Reds would offer a package including first base prospect Yonder Alonso.
- New York Mets: The Mets are also surprise contenders, and they are in for a battle with Lee’s former Phillies teammates the rest of the way. They have a host of “B” level prospects to offer including Fernando Martinez, Brad Holt, and Josh Thole.
- Texas Rangers: Despite financial problems, the Rangers may go after Lee to bolster their pitching to go along with their explosive offense. Their offer could include pitcher Tanner Scheppers and either one of their catching duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden.
- Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are trying to hold off the Twins in the American League Central, and may seek to pair Lee with Justin Verlander the way Seattle does with Felix Hernandez. Their offer could include a young pitcher such as Andrew Oliver or Jacob Turner.
Wherever Lee ends up, he will be a game changing influence. As the Phillies discovered last season, there is no substitute for a true ace when it comes to playoff baseball. For some of the teams mentioned above, Lee will be counted on to fend off the competition and get his new squad into the postseason. For Seattle, they will just attempt to recoup some of the value they lost when they acquired Lee in the first place.
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