As the clock creeps towards today’s 4pm trade deadline, die-hard Phillies fans are sure to be glued to their rumors source of choice. Last night’s report that Jake Peavy is headed to Boston put a sizable dent in the Phillies chances of moving Cliff Lee, leaving only the Tigers, Cardinals and Dodgers as plausible suitors for the prized left hander.
At this point, there is little doubt that Lee is available, and the reports that say so also indicate that the Phillies’ asking price for him is steep, as it should be. Many saw Boston as the frontrunner to pry Lee from the Phils, but in the end it sounds like the asking price (Xander Bogaerts perhaps?) was too high, so the Sox moved on to Plan B and the Phillies were left with little hope of a monster return for their most valuable trade asset.
Bogaerts wasn’t going anywhere for many of the same reasons that Domonic Brown was never available when the Phillies were hunting for aces of their own over the past five years. Prospects of that ilk are rarely moved, regardless of the stakes, and especially when surrendering them also requires picking up a $70 million tab in the process. Assuming Bogaerts, or even Jackie Bradley Jr., were the sticking points in negotiations with the Sox, it is safe to say that any team hoping to acquire Lee’s services today will have to submit an offer that blows Amaro away. Which leads to the question, has Amaro set the bar for Lee too high?
Trading established stars for prospects is risky business. No one knows that better than Amaro, who has acquired Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in recent years for packages that have yet to yield much at the major league level. He also traded Lee before the 2010 season for a haul bad enough that he’s since admitted it was a mistake. But in the Phillies current situation, that shouldn’t be an argument not to move Lee. Quite simply, that is because one could argue the risk of not trading him is greater than the risk of again moving him for a flawed return.