Boston Red Sox trade rumors suggest the team could now pursue starting pitcher Cliff Lee. This chatter stems from a need that the Red Sox have when it comes to improving starting pitching in the rotation. A report from CBS Sports on Tuesday (Feb. 24) might have spurred the discussion, as it points out how the Philadelphia Phillies might be willing to part with Lee for a lesser package of players.
Serious discussions took place earlier in the baseball offseason about how the team could acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies. There was actually an offer on the table, but the front office in Philadelphia wasn’t happy with the players coming back. It stalled those talks and revealed that the Phillies weren’t just looking to dump Hamels to save money. It might have appeased some fans worried the team would get little in return for the ace, but it also showed the front office might be holding on too long again.
Last season for the Phillies, Lee made only 13 starts, posting a 3.65 ERA and 1.377 WHIP. It was a year removed from when he posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.010 WHIP over 222 2/3 innings. The question marks from 2014 are a reason many teams are watching Lee closely during Spring Training 2015. The Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres had shown interest in acquiring him as well, showing that a market might evolve should he start out strong in Florida.
There are already front office people for the team commenting on these latest Boston Red Sox trade rumors. One person told CBS that Lee was “hard not to like” and another stated that he was likely a “long shot” acquisition. No official offer for Lee has been made by the Red Sox, but it could be coming if the price is right. It would also be easier if the Phillies offered to pay part of his salary.
As for his contract, Lee is due $25 million in 2015 and then has a $27.5 million team option for 2016. If that option is declined, Lee gets paid $12.5 million as a buyout. It also becomes guaranteed if he reaches 200 innings pitched in 2015. Either way he would be an expensive addition, but most star pitchers are now.
If Lee is ready to pitch heavy innings again this season, then he could be the perfect fit in Boston. This is a former Cy Young winner who isn’t ready to retire and might be pitching for his next contract. When scouts are saying that he looks “impressive” on the mound this spring that should be an indication that he has something left in the arm. If he can just pitch 180 good innings and be ready for the postseason, he could be the ace of the Red Sox in 2015.