Cliff Lee Update: The Rangers Take the Lead!
FoxSports is reporting that the Rangers are currently the frontrunner in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. The main stumbling block appears to be the Rangers’ reluctance to part with prospect Justin Smoak, however Smoak’s inclusion could help alleviate problems related to the team’s bankruptcy:
The Rangers’ ongoing sale — through a bankruptcy process — is a significant element in the trade dialogue, sources say. Lee has roughly $4 million left on his contract for this season, which is almost certainly too rich for the Rangers to afford right now. The Mariners can pay the remainder of Lee’s salary to facilitate a deal, but they will ask for better players as a result. Smoak is likely to be one of them.
Meanwhile, several of our MLB sources feel the Mets were never especially interested in Cliff Lee to begin with, preferring instead to look at cheaper targets – that is, cheaper in terms of money and prospects. Judging by recent buzz on MetsBlog and other online outlets, that would likely mean the Mets are looking closely at Ted Lilly, Ben Sheets and several other alternatives.
This makes perfect sense. Recent reports seem to indicate that: 1.) The Mets haven’t gotten far in their talks with Seattle, although it serves their purposes to appear like they are working on acquiring Lee up until the moment he is moved to a different team… 2.) The Mets are floating possible alternatives to gauge who can be had for the right price to keep the team in contention into September.
However, one source I spoke to said he believes the Mets could become serious about Cliff Lee if they are unable to pull the trigger on an alternative, for whatever reason. In one scenario, Lilly, Sheets and Oswalt could go to other teams – including the Phillies and other NL wildcard contenders who will be battling the Mets. In which case, the uproar from the fan base might force the Mets to overpay for Lee.
We will find out soon enough…