The Philadelphia Phillies finished 81-81 last season, using a late surge to avoid their first losing season since 2002. After floundering for much of the season, their finish afforded the team a little hope for 2013, especially with their rotation returning.
The Arizona Diamondbacks finished 81-81 last season, which was disappointing after their division-winning 2011, but still respectable. They traded away Chris Young to help clear an outfield logjam, and they were looking to build a contender behind their young pitching, of which they have a metric ton.
Any hope the Phillies have in 2013 has to do with their pitching. The Diamondbacks have a lot of good pieces to build around, but their greatest asset is probably their young pitching.
Which makes this a weird rumor:
Both players are signed for three years, but Lee will make $49 million more over those three years. Part of the appeal for the Phillies would likely be a more flexible payroll, but it's hard to see the Diamondbacks absorbing the entire Lee deal.
What else would the Phillies gain apart from the savings? An outfield improvement, for one, but it would come at the cost of one of the best pitchers in baseball. They would have to be really, really confident that Upton is the star he looked like a couple years ago.
What would the Diamondbacks gain? Going out on a limb here, but I'd reckon the part that interests them here is the Cliff Lee part. The D-backs do have Wade Miley, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and (eventually) Daniel Hudson, but they don't have a Cliff Lee. The rotation would improve, and Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton, and Gerardo Parra would still make for a nice outfield. They would then be free to trade some of that young pitching (or hoard it, Tampa-style).
So I get the Diamondbacks' part, even if it's a little unexpected. The Phillies? That would be weird. Cliff Lee and Nate Schierholtz for Tyler Cloyd and Justin Upton isn't an awful swap for a roster. But it seems like moving in place, talent-wise. At best.
Forget it, Jake. It's Nashville. It's probably not true. But these are the rumblings, people! What would you do without the rumblings?
Edit: Probably not true! Well, I never!
Dbacks source tells me the Upton/Lee stuff "hasn't been discussed" and is "off base."— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 4, 2012