May 13, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee (33) pitches in the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Citizens Bank Park. The Angles won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Forget David Price; The Dodgers Should Target Cliff Lee

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The Trade Deadline is just 11 days away, and the Dodgers will almost certainly acquire a starting pitcher. They have been linked to David Price for months now, but will mortgaging the future be worth it?

The Rays are rumored to ask for at least two of Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, and Corey Seager in a trade. FanGraphs recently rated Seager the 6th best prospect in baseball in their mid-season rankings, with Pederson at 18th, and Urias in the “just missed” category. Tampa Bay has all the leverage in a trade for Price, especially after the Athletics traded their top prospect Addison Russell for two lesser pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

With Price being too pricey (lol), the Dodgers should turn their attention to Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee. Even though Lee has been sidelined since May 18th with a left elbow strain, he is scheduled to start on Monday against the San Francisco Giants. He’ll have roughly 2 starts before July 31st, which means he’s more likely to be an August trade candidate, unless he completely wows his opponents and proves to be healthy. The asking price for Lee doesn’t appear to be as hefty as trading for Price, which is great news for the Dodgers. Philadelphia will probably ask for one of the Dodgers’ top hitting prospects, along with a couple mid-tier prospects (Zach Lee for example), and some salary relief. That’s doable in my opinion, and much better than trading two or three of your top prospects for one and a half seasons of David Price, assuming he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season.

Trading for Lee does come with some legitimate risks though: For one, he is turning 36 in August. From 2010-2013, Lee logged at least 211 innings per season, but won’t reach that mark this season due to his previous injury. When healthy, he’s one of the most durable pitchers in baseball, but it’s fair to wonder if his best days are behind him. Another possible danger sign for the Dodgers is the length of Lee’s contract. He’s owed $25 million next season, and potentially an additional $27,500,000 if his vesting option for the 2016 season is initiated (It vests if he logs 132 more innings from now till the end of next season). Even if the Phillies cover some of the salary, that’s still a lot of money for a pitcher entering his age 37 and 38 seasons.

Despite all of the risks, if Cliff Lee shows he is healthy, it’s a no-brainer for the Dodgers to acquire him. He won’t cost as much as Price in terms of prospects, and that’s all that really matters. He’s one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time (2.52 ERA, 0.93 WHIP in 82 innings), and could help form one of the best rotations in recent memory.

No matter what happens, it’ll be interesting to see how the Dodgers approach these next two weeks. And you can bet we’ll be hearing many more rumors and speculation from here on out.

 

 

 

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