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Cliff Lee wants to pitch again, but who knows if he will

Friday's Say Hey, Baseball includes Cliff Lee's medical clearance, awful Diamondbacks uniforms and Kenta Maeda's posting.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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Cliff Lee did not pitch in 2015 as he dealt with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. Rather than undergo surgery, the veteran lefty opted for rest and rehab, and in something of a surprising twist, it might have actually worked: the reports are that Lee is medically cleared to pitch, so he's going to give it another shot. He's also free from his contract with the Phillies, as they paid him a $12.5 million buyout rather than pick up his $27.5 million option for 2016, so he might even get to pitch for someone who will win some games.

That's all hypothetical, of course. Johan Santana has continually been medically cleared to pitch, and he's managed to take the mound in one regular season since 2010 ended -- and that was back in 2012. Santana's problems are more shoulder-related, but he still stands as a reminder that this doesn't mean the 37-year-old, non-surgically repaired Lee is guaranteed to successfully return just because he wants to try.

But hey, it's early December. Let's not be so pessimistic. Someone with the depth to give a shot to Lee absolutely should do so, because if he does manage to stick, he should be a quality pitcher still. From 2008 through 2013, Lee had a 140 ERA+ and averaged 220 innings per year. In his injury-shortened 2014, he still managed a 103 ERA+ with six times as many strikeouts as walks. He might not be the Cliff Lee of old anymore, but he's also a less expensive risk than, oh, say, throwing $100 million at Jeff Samardzija, so there will be teams willing to give him a go.