Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee is drawing offers from teams looking for a frontline starter, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Amid the rumors, Lee has suddenly been scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday with a stiff neck according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Phillies have resisted selling off veterans so far this season, despite the fact that they are currently 8.5 games back in the NL East and 10 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card spot. That could be changing, however, as general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Crasnick he was at least open to listening:
"I can't sit here and say I'm not going to trade Chase [Utley], or Cliff, or Michael Young or Chooch [Carlos Ruiz], or any of these guys. Some guys are less tradable than others. But I think I owe it to us as an organization to listen. If teams are going to come at us and suggest things, I'm not going to turn off the faucet and stop listening to them."
Lee would certainly be at the top of the list of available players if Amaro and the Phillies were to shop the lefty since he is 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA for Philadelphia this season. He wouldn't come cheap, though, considering he's owed $25 million in 2014 and 2015 and his 2016 team option has a $12.5 million buyout. Gelb believes that the Phillies would want to unload the majority of that cost, too, if they were to deal Lee.
The circumstances of his scratched start on Saturday are bound to increase the speculation about a possible trade because Gelb noted that Lee has displayed no signs of injury recently and that he participated in practice prior to Friday's game. His performance has been down over last few starts, however, allowing 16 runs and nine home runs in his last four starts. That alone could signal that something is off for the former Cy Young Award winner.