Report: Phillies don't intend to trade Lee
Filling holes at third base and left field will be tricky with so much money committed to three starting pitchers, but the Phillies don’t plan to trade Cliff Lee prior to next Tuesday’s deadline, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports
“One person with ties to the Phillies said team higher-ups believe trading Lee would potentially undo most or all the good that was done by extending Cole Hamels,” writes Heyman, “and that the team's plan is to build around its trio of great starters.”
As CSN Phillies insider Jim Salisbury has written multiple times, trading Lee would be difficult, anyway, because of his contract. Lee is still owed about $98 million through the end of 2015 when his 2016 buyout is taken into account.
Holding onto Lee maintains the Phillies’ biggest strength – starting pitching – but the payroll issues for next season are very real. Including buyouts, the Phillies have around $137 million committed to just nine players for 2013. That includes Hamels’ $24 million average annual salary.
If the Phils also keep Hunter Pence, they’ll have about $152 million committed to 10 players, leaving just $26 million under the $178 million luxury tax threshold to fill holes at third base, left field, center field, the bench and the bullpen. What’s more, player benefits take up payroll space with regard to the luxury tax, meaning the Phils will be even closer to the threshold.
One thing is for certain: Ruben Amaro Jr. will have to get creative for the Phillies to achieve their stated goal of avoiding paying a penalty.E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org