Apparently, Cole Hamels wasn’t the only Phillies left-handed starter the Padres had interest in. According to CBS Sports Jon Heyman, the Padres also “kicked the tires” on acquiring Cliff Lee. Of course, the Padres have signed James Shields since then, so their interest has probably tailed off, but hey you never know right?
If the Padres really want to make an upgrade, but don’t want to give up the big prospect to get a starter, like Matt Wisler or Austin Hedges, maybe Lee can be their guy down the road. Lee’s no trade clause doesn’t have the Padres on it either.
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There are some obstacles with that though.
First of all is Lee healthy? Lee only made 13 starts last season after missing extensive time with arm issues. Can he come back from those injuries and prove he’s the pitcher he was a few years ago?
Secondly, his contract is quite onerous. Lee is owed $25 million for this season. For next season, he’s got a $27.5 million team option. If you want to buy him out, you have to pay him $12.5 million. The option becomes guaranteed if he pitches more than 200 innings and doesn’t spend any time on the DL with elbow or shoulder issues.
That would be a lot for the Padres to take on. If they were to do that, the Phillies would have to pick up some of the freight in that trade.
If the Phillies were to do that, then the Padres may have to give up a better player to get the Phillies to take over some of that salary. The Padres do have salary coming off the books next year, but do they want to ruin some of that flexibility by acquiring a guy who will be 37 in August?
The Padres won’t make this move now, nor should they. They have to see where they are at with their rotation, plus Lee has to prove himself. Could these talks come up again in July?
That’s another story.
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