Lee was promptly placed on waivers Thursday and the Dodgers should claim him with little hesitation.
Lee, who makes $21.5 million this season (roughly less than $10 million remaining) and $25 million annually through 2015, would make sense for the Dodgers. He also has a $27.5 million vesting option for the 2016 season ($12.5 million buyout).
All told, it'd be nearly a $100 million commitment (with the buyout). But look at it this way: It'd be like signing a major free agent with less than half the season remaining. Plus, they were set to go after Cole Hamels this offseason before his contract was extended. Lee would be a mighty fine consolation prize.
The Dodgers failed to land a starting pitcher before Tuesday and after trading Nathan Eovaldi, there is a hole in the rotation. Now, Ted Lilly is on his way back (no definite timetable), but Cliff Lee is an elite pitcher in this game. If money is truly no matter for ownership, this claim is a no-brainer.
If the Dodgers claim him, they'd be the only team that could trade for him. That means Lee wouldn't go to the Rangers or Yankees (the only two teams who could realistically claim him and his contract).
Now, claiming him comes with a few other notes:
- The Phillies could just let him go and the Dodgers could assume all the money in the contract.
- The Phillies and Dodgers could attempt to work a trade for Lee, but all players involved on the 40-man roster would have to clear waivers. This means the Dodgers would likely be sending players in the lower minors, which is good for them because it shouldn't take much to acquire Lee.
- The Phillies could pull him back and explore trading him in the winter.
Worse-case scenario: the Dodgers are the same team in a few days without Lee. Best-case scenario: the Dodgers have pitcher 1A to Clayton Kershaw. This would give the Dodgers a formidable rotation for the postseason.
The Dodgers took on nearly $39 million in the Hanley Ramirez deal. Ownership has shown the desire to do whatever it takes to acquire talent for a playoff run right now. I'd be somewhat surprised if the Dodgers don't claim Lee from the Phillies.
Photo credit: Matthew Straubmuller, Flickr