If the Yankees and Mariners pull off a deal that would send Cliff Lee to the Yankees in a package that would send Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero and others to Seattle, does that insure the Yankees of the AL East title?
And are the beat up Red Sox left to contend for the wild card with Tampa Bay?
Doesn't look good for the Red Sox or the Rays.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported the deal was close. If so, the Yankees would then have a rotation of three lefties - CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Andy Pettitte, and righty A.J. Burnett and Phillip Hughes. Javier Vazquez would become their odd man out, or Hughes could go back to the bullpen where the Yankees need help.
The Red Sox and Mariners spoke briefly according to a major league source, but the Sox aren't willing to give up the level of prospects for a rental. The only upside for the Red Sox is the Yankees will be giving up top prospects like a Montero or an Austin Romine.
The Red Sox and Rays would still have a formidable rotation, but as good as the Yanks?
When Josh Beckett returns, he would join Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka/Tim Wakefield which would still be quite formidable providing Beckett becomes dominant again.
The Rays, whose owner said earlier this week that "money was no object" in pursuing a trade deadline deal, were considering Lee to be a "front-end" starter for them to go along with young David Price. But even without Lee, the Rays have Price now as their No. 1 with Matt Garza, James Shields, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis.
The Red Sox have been selective about what they want to go after. They are still trying to land a middle reliever/set-up man type and would consider another outfielder. One outfielder they would likely make a bid on, according to one major league source, is Jayson Werth, if indeed the Phillies are making him available in exchange for pitching help. The Sox have always coveted Werth, but there are conflicting rumors about whether Werth is available. And which pitcher would the Sox part with? The team would deal Daiuske Matsuzaka, but he has a full no-trade clause and there's likely not a big demand or market for him. It would seem doubtful the Sox would part with any of their other starting pitchers.
The Yankees have also signed veteran corner infielder Chad Tracy, who will head down to the minors for a while. Tracy will provide protection for Alex Rodriguez and his sometimes balky hip.
Update: At least two teams had tried to get back into the hunt for Lee this afternoon according to a major league source, but the feeling is the deal with the Yankees should go through. The only upside for Boston, as the Red Sox see it is the Yankees have to give up top prospects and weaken their farm system, but that would only be a benefit down the road.
Update: There were multiple reports at 5 p.m. that the Mariners had traded Lee and reliever Mark Lowe to the Rangers for slugging rookie first baseman Justin Smoak and prospects Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson. The Mariners will also send $2.5 million in cash to Texas.