All you Cliff Lee fans out there, don't give up just yet. Just because the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers couldn't make a deal happen prior to the July 31 trade deadline doesn't mean Lee can't be a Ranger within the next month.
The Rangers starting rotation is awfully shaky with the injuries that have ended the seasons of Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, a struggling Yu Darvish and a hot-at-the-moment Scott Feldman, who could fall of the rails at any time.
The Rangers acquired Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster at the deadline, who promptly gave up eight earned runs in less than five innings in his debut on Thursday. Something else happened on Thursday, as Cliff Lee was unsurprisingly placed on waivers by the Phillies.
There are few possibilities that could arise from this situation.
A team could claim Lee and the $97 million he's still owed over the next 3 1/3 years. Some possible interested clubs could be the Rangers, Dodgers and Nationals. If he's claimed, the Phillies can either let that team have him, and all of his contract, they can negotiate a trade for Lee before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline or they can pull him back off waivers, which makes no sense at all. If he's pulled back, he can't placed on waivers again this season. If he's not claimed, the Phillies can trade him to any team their little heart desires (that isn't on his 21-team no trade clause).
The Phillies have $125 million tied up in Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins — all either pitchers or overpaid, aging veterans with the exception of Howard and could benefit greatly from relieving themselves of the money they owe Lee.
In the Rangers case, they'd obviously love to have Lee back after they watched him put the club on his shoulders in the 2010 playoffs and win the Rangers' first-ever playoff series en route to their first-ever World Series berth. But that big contract is a problem, especially if the Rangers have plans of re-signing Josh Hamilton. Both of them won't be possible. It's likely one or the other.
The Phillies have already said they won't relieve any of the salary if a team claims him and they've also reportedly said they want top-notch prospects in return. None of that will happen, at least not from the Rangers. So I guess the Phillies just have to decide how badly they want to rid themselves of Lee's contract. We'll know soon enough.