With three starting pitchers who were projected to be in the rotation at some point this season the disabled list, the Texas Rangers could stand to upgrade their rotation this summer if they want to make a serious push at getting back to the World Series after disappointments in 2010 and 2011.
With Alexi Ogando set to make his return Wednesday in Boston, that leaves Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis on the DL, and neither has a definite return date set, and it's unclear what either will contribute when they finally do get back. The Rangers have gotten more than they could have ever hoped from rookies Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch, but who knows what they'll be able to sustain.
That brings us to the point, what will the Rangers do at the trade deadline — where they have become annual buyers — to improve their rotation moving into the stretch of the season.
Of course, there's David Price, the young lefty stud sitting out there who could possibly be had for Jurickson Profar, but he's injured now.
One of the biggest names coming up in speculation is Cliff Lee, who Rangers fans fell in love with in 2010 when he pitched just four months for the Rangers but led them to their first-ever playoff series victory and World Series appearance. His dominance through that ALDS and ALCS was legendary before he hit a wall in the World Series, along with every other Ranger but Colby Lewis and Mitch Moreland.
Lee has been down this road before, as a stretch-run mercenary. He was dealt from Cleveland to Philadelphia in 2009, from Philly to Seattle that off-season, and then from Seattle to Texas the following summer. After hitting free agency following the 2010 season, Lee's decision came down to Texas or Philadelphia and he chose the Phillies for less money and fewer years, turning many Rangers fans off to his greatness.
Now, he's pretty much a lock to be dealt again this summer as the Phillies sit in third place in the NL East and are hovering around .500.
"Yeah, pretty much," Lee acknowledged to Fox Sports last week. "Nothing I can do about it, so I'm not going to get too caught up in it."
The 34-year-old is having another fine season for the Phillies, compiling a 2.45 ERA with a 7-2 record and a tremendous Cliff Lee-esque K:walk ratio of 74 strikeouts and just 13 walks. He's under team control through the 2015 season, and has a club option for the 2016 season, but it comes at a cost of $62.5 million for the next two years after this one.
Can you trust a 36- or 37-year-old pitcher for that kind of money? In most cases, no, but with a guy like Lee, a lefty who relies on precision control, you see several cases where you can.
It's unlikely the Rangers will deal their 20-year-old superstar prospect Profar, who's made himself look even better than he did previously over the last week and half, but if Lee could be had for just about anybody else, don't be surprised to see the Rangers jump in on the fun.
FoxSports.com did learn that the Rangers are one of the 20 teams Lee could block a deal to, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't accept it. He just wants some power over being dealt and the list reportedly contains several teams he and his agent figured would be buyers at the deadline, Texas included.
"I can’t sit here and come up with the what-ifs,” he said. “If [a trade scenario] presents itself, I’ll have to look at the situation and figure it out. Right now, I’m a Phillie and I want to do everything I can to help this team win.”
So what do you do if you're in Jon Daniels' shoes? What's your limit on what you'd give up for Lee?