Phillies Notes: Lee not likely to be dealt before deadline

Posted: July 29, 2014

There is little doubt Cliff Lee will step onto the Nationals Park mound in Washington on Thursday, just three hours after the non-waiver trade deadline strikes. He has pitched 102/3 innings in two starts and permitted nine runs on 21 hits since his return from a strained left elbow. No contender will add Lee, not until the ace recaptures some dominance.

The Phillies could benefit from the short-term uncertainty that surrounds Lee. They will expose him to waivers next month - just as most teams do with their players - and Lee should go unclaimed. He is owed $45.5 million after Aug. 1, a number that will scare others, given Lee's recent performance.

A team that claims Lee could be liable for that full sum. The Phillies can either transfer Lee's contract to the claiming team, negotiate a trade with the team, or pull Lee from waivers. That is why he should clear.

The Phillies could expedite that process. The less intelligence teams have on Lee, the less inclined they will be to claim him. There is strategy in the waiver decisions.

"We talk about that a lot," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It's a crapshoot a lot of the time, but you try to make intelligent timing decisions with that. A lot of it depends on where we are as a team."

Once Lee clears, he can be traded without restrictions, provided his no-trade clause does not impede.

Lee resembles a pitcher who needs more time. His fastball velocity is at or near the pre-injury levels. But the lefthander relies on pinpoint command of his sinker and cutter, a trait that is lacking. Lee threw his cutter for strikes 71.7 percent of the time in his first 10 starts, according to PITCHf/x data. His cutter was a strike just 56.3 percent of the time in the two recent outings.

His guaranteed money could jump to $60.5 million if he pitches in 200 innings next season. That would trigger an option for 2016. Lee, 35, has said he intends to retire after this current contract expires.

Extra bases

Mike Adams, on the disabled list since June 7 with right-shoulder soreness, said he hopes to pitch from a mound during the first week of August. Adams, 35, does not expect to return at 100 percent, given his various recent shoulder ailments. ... Marlon Byrd became the fourth player in Phillies history to bash 20 or more home runs at age 36 or older. Cy Williams (1924, 1927), Mike Schmidt (1986, 1987), and Raul Ibanez (2009, 2011) each did it twice. Byrd, who established a career high with 24 homers last season, is on pace for 31 in 2014.

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