It has been widely reported that the Texas Rangers are looking for an anchor; someone to be the ace of their good, but not great, pitching staff. Rangers starters have the fifth best ERA in the American League this season, and GM Jon Daniels doesn’t want this team to fall short in the postseason for a third straight time.
At the top of his list is Cole Hamels, followed by Brewers righty Zack Greinke. But after those two, Daniels could have his sights set on one that got away, Cliff Lee. As you’re well aware, Lee is no stranger to the Dallas area, having gone to the World Series with Texas in 2010.
Would he want to go back? Would the Phillies send him back? Lee’s family was dead set on returning to Philadelphia when he became a free agent that it’s hard to imagine the Phillies shipping him off, even though his season has not gone as planned. However, Ruben Amaro has not shied away from the big move, and he’s in a bit of a tight situation with Hamels presently.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported that the Phillies have no desire to move Lee. Wouldn’t they be wise to do it if it kept Hamels in town? Yes, the Phillies are built on pitching, but if you’re building for the future it makes more sense to build with the 29-year-old than it does the 34-year-old. Moving his contract, which owes Lee a guaranteed $87.5 million over the next three seasons with his buyout included, would allow you to use those funds and reallocate them to Hamels new deal.
Then again, we don’t even know if Hamels will sign. There have been rumblings he’s looking straight ahead to free agency and realizing his potential on the open market, something he’s free to do.
Maybe the Phillies don’t want to piss the Lee’s off like they did a few years ago. If that’s a factor, it shouldn’t be. This is a business and Amaro needs to shape this team not only for next season, but for the future. Hamels fits better than Lee.
The issue with such a deal is that the Phillies cannot be left without both Lee and Hamels. It’s a risky proposition to trade Lee and then attempt to lure Hamels into inking a deal. Would Hamels see such a move as a sort of dismantlement, therefore pushing him farther away?
Don’t take this as me trying to push Lee out the door, either. A trio of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels strikes more fear into opponents than just two of three. That said, if it comes down to it, the way to go is easy to see.
If the Rangers call and blow the Phillies away with an offer, they should think long and hard about it. But only if it means retaining Hamels.