Target: Cliff Lee, LHP
2013 stats: 14-8 record, 2.87 ERA, 222 2/3 innings, 222 strikeouts, 32 walks
Here we go again, it seems like every year since Lee was traded to the Rangers for the last two months of the 2010 season and led them on that incredible ride, we've always tried to find a scenario which could get the lefty back in a Texas uniform.
Is this it? Probably not. But, the Phillies have suggested they're willing to deal Lee with two years remaining on his mega deal and a third vesting option year, that would total $77.5 million over the next three seasons if he hits 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings combined in 2014 and 2015. The chances of that option vesting are pretty high.
So yeah, it's a lot of money, but imagine a 1-2 punch of Lee and Yu Darvish. Wow. Lee hasn't lost his touch even in his advancing age (35), which we said back in 2010 he wouldn't because of his easy delivery. The precise lefty has led the National League in each of the past two seasons in both walks per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio, and unlike Darvish, he doesn't mess around with hitters.
In order to get Lee, the Rangers would not only have to give up a ton in the way of prospects, and probably Derek Holland (because they aren't trading Martin Perez for an aging pitcher), but they'd most likely have to cover the main chunk of Lee's remaining salary, if not all of it.
So yeah, it's highly unlikely, but just thinking of Cliff Lee in a Rangers uniform for those magical few months makes us all warm and fuzzy, so we can at least toy with the idea.