Phillies acquire ace Cliff Lee from Indians

Jayson Stark is reporting that the Phillies have officially acquired Indians’ ace Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco for four minor leaguers.

Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco, Single-A righty Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson — the likely heir apparent to Victor Martinez — and shortstop Jason Donald will be sent to Cleveland.
The trade is pending physical exams.

The Phillies weren’t required to give up pitcher J.A. Happ or the three prospects they balked at trading for Roy Halladay — outfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor, and pitcher Kyle Drabek.

The Phillies get an ace (and a former Cy Young winner) and don’t have to give up prospects Kyle Drabek or Dominic Brown? Or J.A. Happ? Wow. Complete victory. That’s not to say that the Indians were losers in this deal because they are trying to acquire more young talent to restock their farm system. But it’s amazing that Philly was able to get the second best arm on the trade market without giving up their best prospect.

The Phillies are now set for another World Series run with a rotation that now features Lee, Happ, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer. The Dodgers still have the best record in baseball, but this move might put Philadelphia in the driver’s seat in the NL.

As for the Indians, fans have come to trust GM Mark Shaprio’s judgment when it comes to trades, but they must be a little disappointed that they didn’t get Drabek or another young arm (i.e. the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw). But the reality is that one good season doesn’t mean that a team can get a haul for a specific player. Lee was outstanding last year and is an excellent pitcher, but he isn’t Roy Halladay and therefore the Tribe still did well to get Carrasco and Knapp, even if they couldn’t land Drabek.

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Phillies on the verge of acquiring Cliff Lee?

According to a report by ESPN.com, a deal between the Phillies and Indians involving ace Cliff Lee is “heating up.”

According to sources who have spoken with officials of both clubs, they’ve discussed a variety of packages for Lee. One potential package is believed to include Carrasco, a top position-player prospect yet to be determined and two hard-throwing Class A pitchers, Jason Knapp and Trevor May.

Asked if he believed the Phillies could make a trade for Lee without including Kyle Drabek, whom Toronto has insisted upon in any deal for Halladay, one source replied: “If they were going to [trade] Drabek, they might as well do the deal for Halladay.”

Phillies officials have continued to tell other clubs they believe they can make a deal for Lee without giving up either their top pitching prospect, Drabek, or their top position-player prospect, outfielder Dominic Brown.

I couldn’t see the Tribe giving up Lee (whose contract is manageable through 2010) without getting back Drabek in return. But if Philadelphia could swing a deal for Lee that didn’t include Drabek (or Brown for that matter), that would be an impressive feat.

Lee isn’t Halladay, but there’s no doubt that he would dramatically improve the Phillies’ starting rotation and give them the arms needed to make another run at a World Series. A rotation of Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and either Joe Blanton or Jamie Moyer would be tough to contend with in the NL come playoff time.

What’s interesting to me is that Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro seemed dead set against trading Lee only a couple weeks ago and now it almost seems certain that the ace will be dealt by Friday. Granted, Shapiro (along with every other MLB GM) was probably just throwing out smokescreens, but the reports seemed genuine that Lee wasn’t going to be moved this year.

Update: The Phillies have made an official offer for Lee according to FOXSports.com. Apparently the deal on the table is for single-A right-hander Jason Knapp, Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson. Your move, Tribe…

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