On Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies begin their second half in the National League East cellar with a 42-53 record. General manager Ruben Amaro has several assets who will be very valuable in trades, including left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, word around Philadelphia is the team would rather move Lee than Cole Hamels. 

“The strong belief, based on talks so far with the Phillies,” wrote Heyman, “is that the team would much prefer to trade Cliff Lee than Cole Hamels.”

However, another general manager quoted in Heyman‘s report wonders how you can possibly trade for Lee now, because he “isn’t pitching.”

Lee pitched in only 10 games this season before going on the disabled list May 20 with a left elbow strain. He was terrific in the games he did pitch, posting a 3.18 ERA with 61 strikeouts and nine walks in 68 innings. 

If you are asking teams to trade for Lee, who is 35 years old and will make $25 million in 2015 with a vesting option for $27.5 million in 2016, they need to see what he’s capable of doing and whether the financial investment is worth the cost. 

The 2008 American League Cy Young winner is on track to return July 21, according to manager Ryne Sandberg, per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

There is still no definitive word on what the Phillies plan to do at the deadline. Amaro did recently say the team would be “open to anything,” via another report from Heyman. That’s the first logical quote from Philadelphia’s general manager in almost two years. 

Given how expensive Lee will be the rest of this season and next season, it seems likely the Phillies will have to pick up some of that contract to get the package they want or settle for a lesser deal in order to get a team to take on all that money. 

Lee has been an impact starting pitcher for seven years, and there was little to suggest that was going to change before he got hurt, so a team in need of pitching help can elevate its standing dramatically if it acquires the lefty.

It’s still a steep price to pay for anyone, especially a pitcher coming off an arm injury who will turn 36 on August 30. 


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