It looks as though Cliff Lee may be on the move again this season. With the Seattle Mariners underperforming according to expectations, Jack Zduriencik, may be in the market for fresh young talent. Lee is possibly the most coveted arm that is available this season. He is making $9 million on the year and any team that was to acquire him would only be on the hook for approximately half that amount. He’ll also be a Type A free agent at season’s end, meaning a team that loses him will get an extra first-round selection, plus a sandwich pick, in the 2011 draft. This makes him an excellent target for even small market teams looking for that extra boost all the while knowing they won’t have the resources come contract time.
The Minnesota Twins look to be a contender for Lee’s services. According to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse the Twins have offered Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos two of their top prospects for Lee. Also in the running for Lee’s services are Mets, Reds, Dodgers and Phillies. The Reds are rumored to be offering power hitting first base prospect Yonder Alonso but consensus seems to be that it will take more then just Alonso to land Lee.
B.J. Upton has also been rumored to be a possible piece in a package for Lee as well. Upton has issues in the hustle department this year and his batting average is less then stellar. Frankly I don’t see this as a good option for the Mariners since they already have Gutierrez and Suzuki both of which are very similar players to Upton if not better.
There are other pitchers who could help and would cost less in a trade, such as Chicago Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly and Houston’s Roy Oswalt, but more in cash.
Lilly is making $13 million this season but likely will be a Type A free agent when his contract is up at the end of the season. Oswalt is making $15 million this season and is owed $16 million next year, with a $12 million club option in 2012.
Oswalt is expensive, but considering the cost of signing Lee as a free agent after the season, he could be a bargain for the next few years. He is only one year older the Lee and he is definitely wanting to get away from the struggling Astros to play for a contender.