Roundup: Tribe's Lee draws intrigue
Clubs inquire about Cleveland ace with Halladay deal 'unlikely'
Now that Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has said it is unlikely that he will trade Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, has the likelihood that Cleveland's Cliff Lee will be dealt increased?
The Indians are not talking, but scouts from several clubs, including the Dodgers and the Phillies, watched Lee pitch a complete game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night in Toronto. The Phillies, Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals, Rangers, Twins, Red Sox, White Sox, and Yankees are all believed to be interested in acquiring Halladay, but time could be running out on a possible deal. Ricciardi set a July 28 deadline for a potential trade for Halladay -- one day before the pitcher's last scheduled start before the Deadline.
Additionally, any team interested in trading for Halladay would have to offer a significant package of players and prospects.
"I think at this point, it's probably unlikely that we'll trade Doc," Ricciardi said. "As you get closer and closer to the Deadline, no one's really stepped up yet, and at that point, I think time starts running out on you.
"We've got to be highly motivated to move him, so we haven't been highly motivated yet."
Lee is an intriguing alternative for clubs that might miss out on Halladay. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is 6-9 with a 3.17 ERA but has pitched better than his statistics show. He has $9 million option for 2010 but it is unclear if the Indians would be able to afford him after next season. Moreover, trading Lee to a contender with just under 1 1/2 seasons left on his deal could hurt Cleveland's hopes for the playoffs in the short-term but would allow the club to maximize the left-hander's value on the market.
If the Indians do decide to deal Lee, the club would need young Major League-ready pitching in return. Indians catcher Victor Martinez is also reportedly on the market, and like Lee, has an option for 2010.
Around the league:
Arizona: There have been reports the D-backs would like to sign Doug Davis rather than trade him, and the left-hander was drawing little interest in the trade market. Foxsports.com reports that teams do not want to take on the salaries of Davis or D-backs right-hander Jon Garland, and the pitchers are not considered difference-makers. The Rockies and Phillies have shown interest in closer Chad Qualls, according to reports.
Baltimore: The Baltimore Sun reports teams have inquired about closer George Sherrill, but the Orioles are seeking a closer in return. The paper also reports right-hander Danys Baez, first baseman Aubrey Huff and third baseman Melvin Mora are available for trade. Mora has a full no-trade clause.
Boston: The Boston Herald reports that the Cubs, Cardinals and Mets have all expressed interest in shortstop Julio Lugo, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox. Ricciardi -- according to several reports -- told both the Red Sox and Yankees that the price of Halladay for them would be significantly steeper than a non-American League East team. Also, one general manager told Foxsports.com that he believes the Red Sox are showcasing Clay Buchholz. Furthermore, the report states the Red Sox would likely seek a hitter of comparable talent and age if the pitcher is traded. The Red Sox are scouting the Toronto-Cleveland series.
Colorado: The Denver Post has linked the Rockies to Qualls and to Houston's LaTroy Hawkins. The paper also reported the Blue Jays asked for Ubaldo Jimenez and prospects in exchange for Halladay but Colorado thought the price was too high.
Detroit: The Boston Globe speculates the Tigers could be a player in the Halladay sweepstakes because of owner Mike Ilitch's recent track record for spending lots of money to try to win. However, the Tigers' lack of top-level prospect depth available for such a trade could be a problem. Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski says there aren't many sellers right now and the team's best option for an offensive boost is the return of Carlos Guillen from the disabled list.
Kansas City: The Royals are building for the future and are not looking to part with pitchers Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar or Joakim Soria, first baseman Billy Butler or third baseman Alex Gordon.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels have expressed interest in Sherrill, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Orioles are asking for two top prospects, the paper said.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Halladay's price tag could be too steep for the Dodgers. The club is also scouting Lee and keeping an eye on Reds relievers Francisco Cordero, David Weathers, and Arthur Rhodes along with Sherrill. The Los Angeles Times reports the Dodgers are interested in Pittsburgh's John Grabow and Matt Capps.
Oakland: There is talk the A's tried to move Matt Holliday and shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Braves for Yunel Escobar, but Holliday's remaining salary, estimated at $6 million, might have been too expensive for Atlanta. The Cardinals and the Giants might also be players in the Holliday sweepstakes but the teams would also have to part with premium prospects. A's relievers Brad Ziegler and Michael Wuertz might also be available.
Philadelphia: Blue Jays scouts scoured the Phillies' Minor League system and there were rumblings that the Phillies were the leading candidate to acquire Halladay. SI.com reports that Phillies are not willing to include prospect Kyle Drabek in a deal for the Blue Jays pitcher. Additionally, the club scouted Lee on Sunday in Toronto and there are reports the Phillies are interested in Qualls.
Pittsburgh: The Pirates cut off contract talks with infielders Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez after the pair rejected offers to extend their contracts and neither submitted a counter-offer. The club plans on listening to offers from teams interested in acquiring the players. The Pirates are seeking Major League-ready or close to Major League-ready infielders.
San Diego: The Padres are not looking to trade first baseman Adrian Gonzalez or closer Heath Bell but could be willing to move pitcher Kevin Correia, third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff or second baseman David Eckstein. The club has been busy, having already traded Cla Meredith to Baltimore and Scott Hairston to Oakland.
St. Louis: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa brushed off speculation that the club was interested in acquiring third baseman Scott Rolen from Toronto. The Cardinals traded Rolen to the Blue Jays in 2008 after a falling out between the third baseman and La Russa.
"I was never asked about it," the manager said. "I have a long history of not letting anything personal get in the way of anything professional. ... But the answer is that we're very pleased with what we have in Mark DeRosa."
Texas: The Rangers are interested in acquiring Halladay, but view the pitcher's salary as an obstacle. The Blue Jays are seeking a shortstop, and the Rangers are unlikely to deal shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Washington: Foxsports.com reports the Nationals were among the teams that scouted Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez on Monday night. The Giants also have interest in Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, the report said. The Giants and Phillies are said to be interested in Josh Willingham.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.