Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, July 31, 2012 03:35 AM Comments: 22
According to Ken Rosenthal’s latest report, which went up around 3:05 a.m., the Arizona Diamondbacks are “trying to pull off a blockbuster trade for a premier starting pitcher.”
The connection hasn’t yet been made, and there’s a very good chance I’ll look like an idiot by the time I wake up Tuesday for even suggesting this… but couldn’t a trade of Cliff Lee for Justin Upton work?
Lee is owed $87 million through the end of 2015. Upton is owed $40 million. The Phillies have reportedly been willing to eat a large chunk of Lee’s salary. Let’s say the Phils pick up $47 million of it, and the Diamondbacks basically get Lee for the same price they’d be paying Upton. Doesn’t it begin to make some sense?
Yes, Upton is 24, a whopping nine years younger than Lee. But the D’backs have soured on Upton. He’s hitting .270 this season with a sub-.400 slugging percentage, and if Arizona has proven one thing in 2012, it’s that it can score without Upton playing at a high level. If you can acquire a legitimate ace for the same price you’re paying your struggling rightfielder, don’t you try it?
Josh Johnson probably makes more sense under this scenario. He’s 28, five years younger than Lee, and is the only other “premiere” starting pitcher believed to be on the market. But then again, Johnson has missed 77 of 165 possible starts since 2007 with injuries. So the mileage and wear-and-tear on the two pitchers is essentially even.
What other available pitchers can be classified as “premiere?” James Shields is good, but not an elite SP, and I doubt the Rays are keen on picking up $40 million.
Felix Hernandez? Absolutely not. Stop it. He’s not on the market. The Mariners couldn’t make that more clear. Who else? Yovani Gallardo? Nah. Maybe Jon Lester, but the dude has a 5.49 ERA this season.
Lee can block a trade to 21 teams. Is Arizona one of those teams? That question hasn’t yet been answered.
A trade like this obviously makes sense for the Phillies. Acquiring Upton (those two words are so unrealistic to type) would solve the corner outfield problems and enable the Phils to comfortably shop Hunter Pence this winter. The Phils could sign a third-starter-type like Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy or Shaun Marcum and still have a solid rotation.
Financially, it would be a wash for the Phillies, but by shopping Pence they could clear a projected $15 million in 2013 payroll. And Upton’s contract is already set, whereas Pence is due to make over $14-15 million in his final arbitration year before commanding a four- or five-year deal in that range.
It all kind of makes sense when you travel down this road, which we’re only doing because Rosenthal doesn’t just throw things up against the wall. If he reports at 3 a.m. that the Diamondbacks are trying to make a blockbuster for a starting pitcher, you listen.
Cliff Lee would make the D’backs a much more complete team. They’re in the top 10 in baseball in most offensive categories, but are middle-of-the-pack in pitching. At 52-51, they’re only 3 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West.
I don’t know. Looser connections than this have been made.