Cliff Lee did indeed hit the waiver wire and the Los Angeles Dodgers put a claim on the Philadelphia lefthander Friday, giving both sides 72 hours to work out a deal before the Phillies can pull him back from the wire.
The Phillies insist Lee “isn’t going anywhere,” according to general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., but Lee’s salary in a year when he’s in demand but has had his struggles would be a too-attractive salary for the Phillies to shed with other big but untradeable contracts still on the team.
If the Phillies end up pulling Lee back but put him back on the wire, he could not be pulled back a second time. The Dodgers have already plucked one Phillies pitcher off the waiver wire—Joe Blanton, for whom the Dodgers consummated a deal Friday. ESPN said the Dodgers would send the Phillies a minor league player to complete the deal.
When Lee was on the non-waiver trade deadline market, the Phillies were said to be looking for a reasonable prospect or two plus the receiving team to pick up the rest of Lee’s salary. The Dodgers have said they’re willing to spend under their new ownership, but it isn’t known whether they’re willing to pay all of the $96 million left on his five-year deal. They’ve already made it known they won’t budge on keeping top prospect Allen Webster in any deal with any team.
It’s likely, too, that the Dodgers may have put a claim on Lee to keep rivals in the National League West from trying to bag him, although none of the division’s clubs are thought to be anywhere near having the resources to make such a deal.