Yankees on the verge of trading for Cliff Lee?

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stands for the National Anthem during the Yankees World Series victory celebration on the steps of City Hall in New York on November 6, 2009. UPI/Michael Appleton/Pool Photo via Newscom

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the brink of trading for Mariners’ ace Cliff Lee.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik have been in constant contact over the last week, but it was only last night that the Seattle GM told Yankee officials he wanted to move quickly, possibly before the All-Star break.

The Yanks were not assured of obtaining Lee since other clubs such as the Mets, Twins and Rangers were in talks. But the Yanks were definitely making the strongest move last night, coming from seeming disinterest into the clear front-runner and last night it seemed they were all but certain to obtain the 31-year-old lefty.

In an odd twist, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle. Lee is 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and an amazing 89 strikeouts to just six walks. He beat the Yankees twice in the World Series last year, the only two games the Yankees lost in the Fall Classic.

This would be a surprising but predictable outcome. For the past month, the Rangers, Mets and Twins were the clubs that were centered on trading for Lee. But of course, seemingly out of nowhere, Brian Cashman swoops in and nabs another stud for his all-star roster. (Lee, Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett and Vazquez? Dear, Barbara…)

If this deal goes down, the collective heads of Yankee haters are going to explode. “Typical Yankees” they’ll say. But keep in mind that this would be a trade; the Mariners can deal with whichever team they want and if they decide that it’s the Yankees, then you can’t blame Cashman for wanting to make a deal. Yes, the Bombers have a sizeable advantage when it comes to signing and retaining free agents. But when it comes to trades they have as much to lose as anyone seeing as how they’re giving up more than money in a deal. It’s up to Zduriencik to get fair compensation for Lee and if he were smart, he’d play all of the teams against each other in order to get the best deal possible. (Don’t rule out the possibility that he’s using Cashman and the Yankees to get more out of the Rangers or Mets either.)

This isn’t a done deal and the Rangers (who were reportedly the front-runners for Lee just yesterday) could still make a play. But history tells us that if Cashman and the Yankees are involved, they’ll probably get their man.

Typical Yankees.

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Report: Twins offer M’s two prospects for Lee

Cliff Lee

According to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse, the Twins have offered the Mariners prospects Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos for left-hander Cliff Lee, although the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the two clubs aren’t close to striking a deal.

At first glance, it appears that the Twins are offering too much. Hicks was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and has a .792 OPS over three years in the minors. Ramos, although blocked by Joe Mauer at the big league level, has a .281 average over five seasons in the minors and reportedly has decent pop.

If Fletcher’s report is true, then the Mariners would have a hard time rejecting the Twins’ offer. At 34-48 and currently sitting in last place in the AL West, Seattle is out of contention and is desperate for young bats. Lee also becomes a free agent at the end of the year and the M’s aren’t expected to retain him with a long-term contract so they have to get something for him at this year’s trade deadline or be out of luck.

That said, the Mariners are going to take their time because they’ll have plenty of suitors for Lee. This would be one hell of an offer, but one would think that they would wait until closer to the deadline to move him in hopes that a desperate team overpays for his services.

Besides, rumors like this are usually denied about 34 seconds after I get the post up, which really, really makes me happy.

Baker: Mariners can’t keep Cliff Lee

Despite their recent hot streak, Seattle Times columnist Geoff Baker writes that it’s too late for the Mariners to keep starter Cliff Lee.

Recent play aside, Cliff Lee is likely to be shopped. The Mariners need to start filling holes for next year and beyond and the Lee trade is the best place to start since there is no way he will sign here beyond 2010. He’s in line for a $100-million contract, which he probably has a better shot at getting now than he did last off-season, and is not going to take the massive (try 50 percent) discount the M’s would need to get to keep him. Why would he give them that? He’s been here only two months. … We can dream and dream about a 1-2 punch in the post-season, but this lineup is not good enough to get the M’s there.

Coming into the 2010 season, the Mariners believed that if they pitched well enough and played good defense that they could mask their deficiencies on offense. But seeing as how they’re 13 games back in the AL West and have scored the third fewest runs in baseball, that game plan is shot to hell. Not even Lee and Felix Hernandez can save them.

Baker’s right: at some point, the M’s are going to have to go out and get a big popper for the middle of their lineup. What good is it to have Ichiro on base all the time if he has nobody behind him to knock him in? It’s hard to fault Jack Zduriencik for building the roster around pitching and defense based on the park they play in, but clearly the M’s don’t even have enough offense to be a .500 team.

They need to get a bat in exchange for Lee – that should be Zdurienkcik’s main priority as the trade deadline approaches.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Report: Mariners’ nixed three-way deal involving Hernandez and Gonzo

According to a report by the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, the Mariners declined an offer from the Red Sox that would have sent starter Felix Hernandez to Boston in exchange for five prospects.

After the Mariners squashed that deal, the Red Sox got the Padres involved and the three clubs discussed a trade that would have sent slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Seattle, King Felix to Boston and Brandon Marrow, Phillippe Aumont and Carlos Triunfel to San Diego. But in the end, the Mariners backed out of that trade proposal as well.

…The Mariners apparently nixed it, feeling it would not benefit them in the long-term. Boston then turned around and dealt Masterson and Hagadone to the Indians for catcher Victor Martinez.

From what I’m hearing, the Mariners didn’t think any of the packages they were being offered would go down much in substance over the next 12 months, when they’d only have another year-plus of Hernandez under control. Why give up the extra year, their reasoning went, if they could still get a similar offer at the 2010 deadline?

Getting Gonzo would have been outstanding for an offensively challenged club like the Mariners, but in the end I think Seattle would have given up too much.

Losing Hernandez (a top 5 pitcher) would have been crippling enough, but throwing in Aumont (a pitcher with front-of-the rotation stuff) and Triunfel (a top 50 infield prospect) in addition would have definitely taken a big chunk out of the M’s future. (One could debate whether or not trading Morrow would be a significant loss in the end.)

While adding Gonzo to their lineup would have been excellent, I think Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik made the right decision in passing on this deal.

MLB trade rumors: Martinez, Halladay, Lee & Garko

– The Brewers and Mariners are in serious talks that could send starter Jarrod Washburn to Milwaukee according to the Journal-Sentinel.

– The Yankees are looking for arms and according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Bombers are interested in the Bucs’ Ian Snell, John Grabow and Matt Capps, the Nats’ Joe Beimel, the Royals Ron Mahay, and the Reds’ Bronson Arroyo.

– The Giants are still in desperate need of bats and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Indians have been scouting the G-Men’s farm system. Could either Victor Martinez or Ryan Garko be on their way to San Fran?

– Despite Toronto GM J.P. Riccardi saying there is a very slim chance that a trade will happen, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that talks between the Phillies and Blue Jays remain intense. The paper also suggests that the Phillies could turn their attention to Cliff Lee if a deal for Halladay cannot be struck.

– According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox still remain very much in the hunt for either Roy Halladay or Victor Martinez.

– The Dodgers are denying that a deal between them and the Indians involving Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez is in serious discussion. FOXSports.com reported over the weekend that L.A. and Cleveland were discussing a blockbuster trade that would send Lee and Martinez to the Dodgers for James Loney and either Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw.

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