It’s got to suck to be Cliff Lee. In the last two years he’s been traded from the last place Indians, to the NL Champion Phillies, who then traded him to a currently last place Mariners team. On how many levels is that not fair to a guy? A former Cy Young winner, still pitching like a Cy Young winner, pitched for three teams in the last two years, two of these teams totally sucked, the other dumped him for Roy Halladay, who’s basically Cliff Lee but right-handed. His contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that whoever he signs with, it’s going to be a long contract, and he’s gonna have a no-trade clause. The way they’re playing right now, it’s unlikely he’s going to come back to Seattle, so the logical decision for Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik right now is to do what all great GMs of Cliff Lee do, trade him. But with all those teams out there who have already had him, whose left to trade him to?
The Baltimore Orioles? They’re too far away from contending to be able to use Cliff Lee this year, nor do I think they’d be able to sign him long term. Also, if they did trade for Lee, they’d be trading the strong farm system which is their best chance to contend in the future.
The Chicago White Sox? They already broke the farm for Jake Peavy last year, take a look at what good that’s doing them right now.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? It’s a possibility, but there are always questions about inter-division trading.
The Boston Red Sox? They signed John Lackey this offseason, there’s very little chance that they go after another big name starter in the trade market.
The Cleveland Indians? They traded CC Sabathia one year, they traded Lee the next, and as of right now, they’re terrible. No way they trade for Lee back.
The Oakland Athletics? Trading the farm for a big name starter is the absolute last thing Billy Beane would ever do.
The New York Yankees? They always seem to have the money to pay for a starter in free agency, but right now I think their farm system is a little drained to make a serious play for Lee in a trade. If Lee become a free agent at the end of the season however, this will probably be one of the main contender for his services.
The Detroit Tigers? One of the more interesting destinations to me, they’re a decent market, are in contention, teams like the Tigers are always solid destination for player like Lee to go in a trade.
The Tampa Bay Rays? They’re probably more concerned with signing what they already have than they are in getting Lee. Besides, the Rays pitching staff is already freaky.
The Kansas City Royals? No, and I really hope no one asks me to explain this one.
The Texas Rangers? See LA Angels for this one.
The Toronto Blue Jays? They’re definitely looking good enough right now to use him, but it would be kind of awkward trading for Lee after trading away Halladay in the offseason. The other concern here would be his long term signability.
The Minnesota Twins? Another team who could certainly use a Cliff Lee, but they’re the Twins, trading for a really big name doesn’t seem like a Twin thing do.
The Atlanta Braves? Their starting pitching has been surprisingly underwhelming this season, and they’re a contender type team, good market, they could certainly make a play for Lee.
The Chicago Cubs? They moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen because they have too many starters, not really a good destination.
The Arizona Diamondbacks? The organization is in a down phase, and trading for Lee would be a meaningless move right now.
The Florida Marlins? They certainly have the farm system to do it, but like the As, the only time they trade big names, is when they’re the ones getting the prospects.
The Cincinnati Reds? Expectations have been slowly increasing the past few years with the fine young talent of this team, and it looks like this year is finally the year the Reds break out. Kind of like the Rays, I’m not so sure how the Reds feel about getting a big name secured from outside the organization right now.
The Colorado Rockies? Along with the Reds, this might be the Rockies decade, former ace Jeff Francis finally returned from injury this year, I think if they make a play for a big name, it’s going to be a hitter, not Cliff Lee.
The New York Mets? The Mets hit me as one of the top trade destinations for Lee, while I don’t think they have the deepest farm system in the league, they could sure use another top starter, they have the money to pay him, and they’re probably be more willing to move their personnel than the Yankees.
The Houston Astros? This team is at a rebuilding point, selling the farm for an ace pitcher doesn’t equal rebuilding. It’s highly unlikely.
The Los Angeles Dodgers? The Lord knows that they could use pitching, another big market team, in my lifetime I’ve never seen them not contend, I have them being another major trade contender next to the Mets.
The Philadelphia Phillies? The last team to trade Lee, all so they could get Roy Halladay, they’re probably not bringing him back.
The Milwaukee Brewers? Also in a down phase, they’ve shown that they’ll make big splashes while contending(Sabathia), but right now they aren’t contending, so I don’t see it.
The San Diego Padres? A good enough team to use an ace like Lee, but like the Blue Jays, it would feel awkward after trading away Jake Peavy last season.
The Washington Nationals? If they keep up the success they’ve had thus far this season, it could be possible, but like a number of previously mentioned teams, they’re probably more concerned with player already in the organization.
The Pittsburgh Pirates? See the Royals.
The San Francisco Giants? Between Cain, Lincecum, Zito, and Sanchez, pitching just isn’t the issue for this team.
The St. Louis Cardinals? Unless they think this is the year, I don’t see it, because he would be a rent-a-player, with new contracts on the horizon for Wainwright, Carpenter, and Pujols.
So apparently there are a number of teams out there who may like to have Cliff Lee. The Mariners are not going to be able to sign him, they are not going to contend this season, though it would be totally unfair to a great player to make him find a new home again, it is inevitable, so why not get it over with now? I almost can’t help but think Cliff Lee would appreciate it.
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