Cliff Lee is performing. His team has a losing record. The trade deadline no longer seems far away. The rumors are starting. It happened in 2009, when he went from Cleveland to Philadelphia. It happened in 2010, when he went from Seattle to Texas. You wonder if Lee is thinking, “Here we go again.” In fact, he is. “Yeah, pretty much,” Lee acknowledged Friday, during an interview at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. “Nothing I can do about it, so I’m not going to get too caught up in it.” That’s not entirely accurate: Lee can do something about it. His contract with the Phillies includes a 20-team no-trade clause. Only nine teams can acquire Lee without his permission. So if the Phillies make him available in the days leading up to the July 31 deadline, he could limit his market to roughly one-third of the major leagues. In resetting the list of clubs before this season, the 34-year-old and his agents structured the clause such that it would have maximum impact. While Lee didn’t want to discuss specific teams with FOXSports.com, major league sources say most of the 20 teams subject to the provision are projected trade-deadline “buyers.” The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles are among the 20 teams that would need Lee’s permission to acquire him, the sources told FOXSports.com. Of that group, the Rangers and Orioles are of particular interest. The Rangers remain focused on winning the World Series, after falling short in 2010 and 2011, and the starting rotation is their most obvious area to upgrade. Texas has three starting pitchers on the disabled list — Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis — and it’s unclear what each will be able to contribute this year. The Rangers have been thrilled with the contributions of right-handed starters Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm, but neither has pitched an entire season in the major leagues. And the Rangers are well aware of what Lee can do in October, having watched him dominate the American League playoffs for them in 2010 before losing twice in the World Series. The Orioles, meanwhile, have enough offense to win the AL East — and more (They are second in the majors with 287 runs scored). But their starters have managed an ERA of only 4.85, and the team has lacked a true ace for years. The Orioles made the playoffs last season despite having just one pitcher start more than 20 games; they probably can’t rely on their lineup and bullpen in quite the same way this year.
Phils' Cliff Lee prepared for another trade
Fox Sports | Jun 4