PHILADELPHIA // Looking for an ace to bolster their so-so rotation, the Philadelphia Phillies have acquired Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians, who traded the reigning pitcher of the year for the second straight season. The World Series champion Phillies gave Cleveland four minor league prospects for Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.
"I'm going to miss all these guys here, but it's an opportunity for me to help a team that's in first place," Lee, who turns 31 next month, said after the Indians lost to the Los Angeles Angels 9-3 in Anaheim. "They're the defending world champions. So as far as that goes, I'm excited." The National League East-leading Phillies sent Triple-A pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson along with Single-A pitcher Jason Knapp to Cleveland. Last year, Cleveland dealt CC Sabathia, then the reigning Cy Young winner and in the final year of his contract, to the Milwaukee Brewers. Sabathia helped the Brewers into the postseason before signing a $161 million (Dh591m), seven-year contract with the New York Yankees.
The left-hander Lee gives the Phillies another top starter to join Cole Hamels. Lee is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts this season after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA last year. Hamels, the MVP of the World Series, has been inconsistent this season, and is 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA The future of the man who is generally regarded as baseball's best pitcher, Toronto's Roy "Doc" Halladay, remained uncertain last night with today's non-waiver trade deadline looming.
The chances of the Angels acquiring Halladay seemed remote, with the club's general manager, Tony Reagins, stating the likelihood of them trading for any pitcher before the cut-off "is probably 50-50 right now". "I will be optimistic until 1pm on Friday," Reagins said. "But make no mistake, we really like this club. It can contend and win. If we don't do anything, we're confident in the 25 guys we have."
According to reports, Toronto asked the Angels for shortstop Erick Aybar, a big league pitcher - either Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders - the top infield prospect Brandon Wood and a Double-A prospect, either pitcher Trevor Reckling or outfielder Peter Bourjos, in exchange for Halladay. "Everybody realises that to get some pieces you're looking for you'd have to overpay," said the Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia. "But there's a fine line between overpaying and gutting an organisation ... If you're going to make a deal that makes you extremely strong in one area and weakens you in other areas, you may not like what's left."