In a brief series, we'll take a look at possible trade deadline targets for the Texas Rangers after perhaps their top target, Cole Hamels, has re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
With Colby Lewis out for the season, Roy Oswalt's back being hard to trust and the future of Neftali Feliz with the Rangers being somewhat shaky, there is an obvious need for starting pitching health at the July 31 trade deadline. We've touched on Zack Greinke, Josh Johnson and James Shields, and today we'll hit on the remote possibility that the Rangers could be reunited with one of the biggest Rangers legends ever.
Cliff Lee went into Rangers history books for the rest of time after he was acquired in a pre-deadline deal in 2010 from the Seattle Mariners for uber prospect Justin Smoak, who was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma by the Mariners earlier this week.
With Hamels re-upping for upwards of $140 million over six years (breaking the Phillies steadfast rule of not giving pitchers more than five years), the Phillies are looking to clear some salary. And when it comes to salary on the Phillies, not many more people make more than Lee, who decided to sign with the Phillies following his three-month stay in Texas despite the Rangers offering more money and years. It's been reported the Phillies have aspirations of holding to Lee to form an incredible trio of starting pitchers with Hamels and Roy Halladay, who has been injured this season. But don't be surprised to see the Rangers make a serious move at Lee.
Some folks around here felt shunned, but there was really no reason to. Lee followed his heart and went where he felt was best for his family, specifically a sick child whose doctor was located in Philly back from when Lee was there the first time.
Now, it should be said, Lee is not what he was two years ago, or even last year. His ERA is 3.95 and is 1-6 on a struggling team. Last year, he was 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and led the NL with six shutouts.
The thing is, Lee is controllable through 2016 with a club option but is only in the second year of a five-year deal with a the option and is still owed nearly $90 million. That means the Rangers would have him for years to come. And even though Lee is 33, he's the type of pitcher that won't be really declined by an advanced age. He'll still be good at 37 or 38. The money is an issue though, and it would take a massive package of prospects to pry him away considering his years of control.
2012 stats: 1-6, 3.95 ERA, 112 strikeouts, 23 walks, 1.20 WHIP
Likelihood of becoming a Ranger (on scale of 1-10): 2 (was 5 before Phils announced they aren't trading)
Pros: Controllable for basically the rest of his career, a cult figure in DFW, a postseason monster which is what Rangers are looking for
Cons: Would cost a ton of money over the next four years, would cost a ton of prospects right now, most like Mike Olt and Martin Perez, plus some big-league players like Neftali Feliz