Yankees Trade Rumors: M's Anticipate Dealing Lee to Yanks

According to George King of the NY Post, the Mariners have been busy scouting the Yankees farm system in anticipation of the Yankees trying to trade for LHP Cliff Lee at the deadline this season.

A source told King that they are interested in minor league infielder Eduardo Nunez plus one of the Yankees minor league catchers (Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero is their top prospect and Double-A catcher Austin Romine is their second best prospect. Catchers Gary Sanchez and JR Murphy are also elite prospects in the organization).

Let me be clear, King is reporting that the Mariners think that the Yankees are going to make a play for Lee. So far the Yankees have made no indication that they are interested and earlier in the season when Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt requested a trade we heard that the Yankees were happy with their rotation and weren’t interested in adding a pitcher. That was when their no. 5 starter Javier Vazquez was pitching poorly too, but as of late he has been a sufficient backend of the rotation pitcher.

Aside from the Yankees stocked rotation (CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and Vazquez) there are two other reasons why this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

2 Reasons it Won’t Happen

The first reason is that in the past Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has resisted trading prospects for players close to free agency. It is just not his style to deal prospects and then give a player a bunch of money. However, this could mean that the Yankees are only interested in Lee as a rental and will look to offer him arbitration and net a couple of first round draft picks for the type-A free agent.

The other reason is that the Yankees have a firm policy of not extending player’s contracts until the contract has expired. They’ve made this very public recently in the case of Derek Jeter. The M’s seem to think that the Yankees might be interested in dealing for him as long as they have a window to sign an extension. It could be possible that the Yankees could make an exception here fearing that Lee might opt to sign somewhere else this offseason.

2 Reasons Why it Could Happen

There are a couple of reasons why this could happen. The first is like I briefly mentioned above, the Yankees might be so desperate to make sure they get Lee this offseason that they would be eager to be able to negotiate early with him. However, that is not guaranteed as the Phillies already traded Lee thinking that he wanted to test the free agent waters and the Yankees might not be willing to risk trying to make a deal only to not be able to agree to an extension. Signing a Roy Halladay type of deal on their terms (3-years $60 million) could be more likely if they have an exclusive window to sign him though.

The other reason is because of Phil Hughes. Hughes is on a innings limit this season around 175 and the way he’s pitched this year makes it all the more important to protect his arm. The Yankees might not want to use him in a post season rotation and instead opt to improve their bullpen with Hughes. At that point Vazquez than becomes their 4th starter, a scary proposition in the playoffs where every game would be a high pressure situation against a formidable opponent.

Overall, I don’t expect the Yankees to make a deal for Lee midseason, but when it comes to stuff like this, especially with the Bombers, you can just never tell for sure. I could see the Yankees be willing to deal Nunez, but their catchers are all big time prospects. Dealing one of them for a 6th starting pitcher, even one as good as Lee, doesn’t make a ton of sense.

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3 Responses to Yankees Trade Rumors: M's Anticipate Dealing Lee to Yanks

  1. BP says:

    THe problems start when Lee gets dealt to another contender & Lee makes that club a favorite to win a WS. I love Romine & JR Murphy, but Sanchez is the guy that I'm really pumped about as our everyday catcher of the future. I also like our 13th round draft choice Chris Austin as I hear he's a stud & only 18 years old. I don't know what to make of Montero as I hear reports on him all over the map. I know he's a genuine power bat & he's young, but will he be good enough behind the dish to be the every day guy? I'd hate to give up on him too soon before we find out what he really is. Likewise, I'd hate to see Lee go elsewhere & we lose a chance to repeat because the club he goes to takes us out. Dilemna yes, but I know this for sure: If the Bombers add Lee & Wigginton, we're flat-out repeating!

  2. Common Sense says:

    "In 1976, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed an attempt by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley to sell Blue to the New York Yankees and in 1977, Kuhn cancelled a proposed trade of Blue to the Cincinnati Reds. In both instances, Kuhn said the trades would be bad for baseball because they would benefit already powerful teams without making them give up any significant talent in return."

    Where have you gone Bowie Kuhn??? How can Selig keep allowing this disparity in baseball to continue?

    • You should try replacing common sense with baseball knowledge. Back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's teams regularly made totally one sided trades and in the mid-70's Bowie Kuhn was trying to put an end to that. Today trades are a lot more fair typically, even if you don't like them. A trade of Romine, Nunez, McAllister, and Adams for Lee would be fair in that the M's would be getting some real talent with a chance to have productive MLB careers. In exchange the Yankees would get 2 months of a veteran pitcher.

      You are comparing apples to oranges here.