ESPN.com's Jim Bowden put together the deals he believes should have happened at the trade deadline and includes Cliff Lee. The trade he proposed: Mike Olt and Cody Buckel for Lee. Part of what Bowden wrote:
With Felix Hernandez not on the trade market, the only No. 1 starter that could be had is Lee of the Phillies. Mike Olt would solve the Phillies’ third base position and fifth spot in the lineup for the next decade while Buckel should develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter. With a revised rotation of Lee, Dempster, Harrison, Darvish and Holland, the Rangers would be poised for a third chance at a World Series championship.
We now know that Lee was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was then pulled back. But what Bowden doesn't mention in his analysis is the money. And the money is a big deal.
Not only would the Rangers have had to be willing to deal a top prospect like Olt, but the Phillies, according to reports, weren't willing to take on much of Lee's remaining contract. Sure, the Rangers have an ownership group willing to spend. But the Rangers are in position for another run at a World Series because they've spent smartly (for the most part). Lee has three more years at $25 million each on his deal and an option year at $27.5 million for 2016 (with a $12.5 million buyout).
Some of you asked me why the money was such a big deal when the Rangers offered Lee such a large contract after the 2010 season. But part of the point of that kind of deal would be to get the benefit of the first two seasons of the agreement, when Lee would be at his youngest in the life of the contract. So in no way would you give Lee the deal that was on the table nearly two years ago. And paying Lee's entire remaining contract could hamstring the club from signing other players in future years.
So it didn't come together and it looks like Lee will be with Philadelphia for the rest of the season. It should be interesting to see what the Phillies do in the offseason.