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Cliff Lee: The Phillies Bargain Ace

cliff lee

This is my first post on Sports Agent Blog after getting my start at Entertainment Agent Blog.  Being from outside the Philadelphia area, I’m heartbroken the Phillies lost to the Yankees.  But now that the season is over, the Phillies should reflect on their season and think about who will be returning next year.  The Phils got Cliff Lee along with Ben Francisco on July 29th, in a trade for SS Jason Donald, P Jason Knapp, P Carlos Carrasco, and C Lou Marson in no doubt the best bargain of the season.  Without question, the trade paid immediate dividends for the Phils and at a bargain price.

The Phils didn’t give up that much in return for Lee.  None of the prospects did much of anything this year.  Carrasco went 0-4 for the Indians with an ERA close to 9.00.  Lou Marson batted .250 in 14 games, Knapp went 0-0 with an ERA of 5.40 in the minors and struggled with injuries, and Donald batted .257 with one R.B.I.  In 10 games for the Indians AAA affiliate. While some of these prospects may make it to the Majors, none of them have really shown potential to be everyday players.  On the other hand, Lee had a stellar second half with the Phillies and arguably one of the best postseasons in recent memory, all for a bargain price of their share of the $5.75 million he was due this year.

What makes the deal even sweeter for Philadelphia is that Lee also has an $8 million club option for 2010.  That means the Phillies could have at least one more year with Lee before he becomes a free agent.  The club option is relatively cheap for someone who went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in the regular season and 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the postseason.  Management would be stupid to not pick up the option.  Letting Lee become a free agent will almost assuredly mean that he can command big money in the free agent market.

I think it is inevitable that the Phils will pick up the club option for next season.  The real concern for management is locking him into a long-term deal with the club.  If he performs next year like he did during the later part of this season and postseason, there is no telling what kind of price he is likely to demand in free agency.  He could demand a contract similar to what C.C. Sabbathia received from the Yankees.  There are only a handful of teams able to dish out that kind of cash.  If it comes to that, I hope the Phillies are one of them.

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