Back in 2010, the Yankees were reportedly close to trading for Cliff Lee in a package deal that involved Jesus Montero. That deal obviously fell through, and after he later became a free agent, Lee opted to sign with the Phillies despite the Yankees making substantial offers to him. GM Brian Cashman has said that he's still looking to upgrade the rotation, and the Yankees reportedly scouted Lee's last rehab start. Could this be the year that Lee becomes a Yankee?
Lee has missed the majority of this season with a flexor strain in his left elbow. He went on the DL in May, and just made his first start since being activated last night. It was not his best performance, as he allowed 6 earned runs through 5.2 innings, along with 1 BB and 3 Ks. Prior to his DL stint, Lee had a 3.18 ERA and 1.28 WHIP through 68 IP with 8.07 K/9 1.19 BB/9 0.66 HR/9. His .341 BABIP is higher than his career norm (.297), and with a 2.70 FIP and 2.92 xFIP, Lee could be due for some positive regression. On the other hand, his GB% is up to 49.1 for the season, and that doesn't exactly bode well for the Yankees' defensive woes.
ESPN's Jim Bowden thinks that the Phillies should trade Lee to the Yankees for Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. In his first year in the minors, Judge is batting .326/.428/.519 with 13 home runs. Severino was recently promoted to Double-A, and has a 2.41 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 10 K/9 through 93.1 IP. I'm not sure if it's because I've grown attached to some of the prospects, but it's hard for me to side in favor of this. First of all, Cliff Lee is almost 36 years old, and he just missed two months with an elbow injury. Who is to say that it won't bother him again, or that he will be able to pitch as well going forward? Obviously every player runs the risk of getting injured, but since the rotation is in shambles due to injuries, it might not be wise to trade for an older player who was just injured. In terms of his contract, he's owed $25 million in 2014 and 2015, and has a team option for 2016 worth $27.5 million ($12.5 million buyout). Also, the Yankees are on his 20-team no-trade list, so he would have to agree to be traded to them. Who knows if the Phillies would actually make that deal, but it doesn't seem that favorable, considering that the Yankees would presumably take on the rest of his contract. Maybe the Phillies would be interested in some other prospects instead, such as a package with one of the surplus catchers.
Would you like to see Cliff Lee become a Yankee? Do you think Lee for Severino and Judge seems like a reasonable deal? What kind of alternative deal would you suggest? Vote in the poll below.