Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee knows the drill and understands his name will continue to be part of trade rumors.
There is a feeling around baseball that Lee will eventually be sent packing, even if it isn’t by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Lee is earning $25 million this year and the same amount next season. There is a club option for $27.5 million in 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout.
Still, for a team that feels it is one pitcher away from the postseason, Lee could be a short-term alternative.
So Lee, who has been traded four times in his career, naturally doesn’t like the speculation but knows it won’t go away.
After looking rusty by allowing six runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings during Monday’s 7-4 loss to the visiting San Francisco Giants, Lee was asked about all the scouts that were in attendance watching him make his first start since May 18 after being sidelined with a strained left elbow.
“I didn’t know how many scouts were here and I don’t care about the rumors,” Lee said. “It doesn’t matter.”
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t annoying to be reminded constantly about the rumors. Still, Lee was adamant that it doesn’t bother him.
“I could care less about the scouts in the stands or trade rumors or that type of thing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
When asked if dealing with previous trade rumors made the situation easier, Lee wouldn’t budge.
“I have never cared about that,” he said. “I still don’t.”
Lee wouldn’t fall into any traps. He is playing for an aging 43-54 team and was asked if he feels Phillies can be winners in the future.
“How else am I supposed to look at it besides I want to win, I expect to win and that's the way I look at it,” he said. “That's kind of the answer to that.”
Lee said it is the job of management to put the best team on the field and the job of the players to perform.
“I'm not going to get caught up in trades and all the speculation,” Lee said. “I'm a Phillie and I want this team to win and I'm going to do everything I can to help that happen. That's really it.”
That’s a good attitude to take, but it won’t stop the speculation even if he remains a Phillie after the non-waiver trade deadline.