Twins to make a run at Cliff Lee?

It was the Phillies yesterday, today it’s the Twins.

The daily Cliff Lee trade rumors have already begun.

Sources tell ESPN’s Tom Pelissero that the Twins are considering making a serious run at acquiring Lee from the Mariners. As Pelissero notes, Minnesota likes their starting rotation, but it might not be good enough to win in October. That’s where Lee comes in.

Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 earned-run average for the Cleveland Indians in 2008. His numbers actually are better in several categories this season for the woeful Mariners — including a 0.932 WHIP and a 15:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio — even though he started the season with an abdominal injury that forced him to undergo plasma injection therapy.

The prorated portion of Lee’s $9 million salary wouldn’t be prohibitive for an organization with a record payroll already. The obstacle would be putting together a package good enough for the Mariners to sacrifice the two draft picks they’d receive if Lee, 31, leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Twins’ first-round pick in 2007, Class-AA outfielder Ben Revere, is the most expendable of the team’s top assets, but it’d take more than that. And giving up top catching prospect Wilson Ramos would be a hefty price for a hired gun who might depart after only a few months.

It’s hard to see the Twins making a move like this, because they generally rely on the talent they have on their roster (which is mostly homegrown) to win. But if they’re serious about contending for a World Series this year, they might be willing to pay a significant price to acquire Lee.

Of course, Lee is a free agent next year and the Twins would have to justify giving up marquee young talent in exchange for a player that will more than likely move on to greener pastures next year. I just can’t see them parting with Revere and Ramos for a half season of Lee, but then again stranger things have happened. (You know, like Ted Lilly coming within three outs of a perfect game.)


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