Mark Fiensand spoke to (an unnamed) Yankee official regarding the recent rumors about them being involved in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes during the upcoming trade deadline. The official expressed in no uncertain terms that there’s nothing to the story. Here’s the report from Mark:
“There is no urgency to do anything with the rotation,” the official said in response to a published report that suggested the Yankees were going to be bidders for Lee. “That’s not an area that we’re focused on.”
Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner, is 4-2 with a 2.77ERA in eight starts this season for the last-place Mariners. Most industry experts believe Lee will be dealt before the July 31 deadline, but even if and when that happens, the Yankees won’t be in on the bidding, the official said, unless one of their five current starters suffers a serious injury.
“Seattle may be doing its prep work by scouting a bunch of different teams,” the official said. “But it sounds like they’re doing more prep work than we are on this one.”
The Mariners would love for the Yankees to get in the mix for Lee, according to a major-league source, as Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik is looking to add a premier catching prospect to his organization, making the Yankees an ideal trade partner thanks to their wealth of catching talent in the minors.
Still, the source called the report of the Yankees’ interest in Lee “ludicrous,” questioning why the Bombers would mortgage the farm by trading one of those stud catching prospects, Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, for Lee when there is no hole in the rotation to fill. Lee, who is in the final year of his contract, does figure to be one of the Yankees’ top free agent targets this winter.
“After the year, when (Javier) Vazquez’s contract is off the books, they’ll make a push for him,” the source said. “But the idea of them trading Montero for Lee now is ludicrous.”
I would agree with everything this official said, the notion that the Yanks would be looking to add a 6th starter, even one of Lee’s caliber, is absurd. The Yanks may be an ideal trading parting in terms of what they can offer, but there is simply no need at the present time. Of course, should there be a major injury to the starting rotation this is subject to change, but why would they give up one of their best trade chips now for someone they can simply sign as a free agent in a few months? Is two months of Cliff Lee worth giving up one of the best hitting prospects in Baseball as opposed to two draft picks? Especially when they have a need at Catcher in the near future and a starting 5 that’s performing well and is already as deep as anyone else in Baseball? What exactly would they do with the starter he’s replacing? Makes no sense.
If you were to deal Montero/Romine for Lee now, then you wouldn’t have them available for a deal should a real need arise. Also, with as much depth as the Yanks have at the Catcher position, they still don’t have anyone who’s ready to step in right away. Montero’s having an awful season with the bat and is still working on his defense, and Romine is still in AA Trenton. Jorge Posada will be 38 years old on August 17th and has missed major time due to injury over the past 3 seasons. From an organizational standpoint, the best move is to stand pat with what you have. This is not the type of trade Brian Cashman has a history of making, and in case people haven’t noticed George isn’t running the team anymore.