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Yankees Trade Rumors: New York not interested in Cliff Lee

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like Cliff Lee's name has been linked to the Yankees for years now. Every trade deadline we discuss whether or not the Yankees will finally acquire Lee, and this year is no different. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask, the Yankees are not interested in acquiring Cliff Lee in the next few days before the trade deadline. According to Andrew Marchand, a source told ESPN New York that "as of today [July 22nd], the Yankees are not hot and heavy for [Cliff Lee]."

Take that as seriously as you want to, but so far there seems to be nothing indicating they're interested in him, and there are reasons for that. Not only is Cliff Lee expensive in dollars, with him owed $25 million in 2015 and a vesting option for another $27.5 million in 2016, but he's also going to cost significant prospects. Given the current strength of the 2014 Yankees, Brian Cashman might be hesitant to go all-in during a season where the team just isn't built to compete. Lee would cost more than the likes of Vidal Nuno, Yangervis Solarte, and Rafael De Paula, so if they want to pull the trigger, they better expect it to be worth it.

Another reason for their lack of interest could also have to do with the fact that he is nearly 36 and just now coming off an elbow injury. While his 3.18 ERA and 2.70 FIP with a 8.07 K/9 and 1.19 BB/9 in the first half are in line with his career rates, the injury kept him out from mid-May to just this week. In his first start back he was beat up for six runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings, so it's a matter of whether he's heathy or if he's just rusty and he only has one or two starts left in which he can prove it. The Yankees likely don't want to be the ones to take the chance.

What makes him even less of a fit is that the Yankees are on Lee's no-trade list, so he'd need to give his approval before any trade to New York went down and he could use that to his advantage. It's possible that to get him to agree to a deal, the left-hander would ask that his vesting option for 2016 turns into a guaranteed year or at least a player option. The only teams that can trade for him without needing his approval are the Braves, Indians, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Padres, Rays and Nationals. So essentially it's the Braves or Nationals.

It's possible that Cliff Lee is still the same pitcher that he has been for years and it's also possible that age and injury have finally caught up with him. At least for right now there are too many factors at work here to have the Yankees go all-in on him.