Most players that have been tossed around as potential trade chips (Chase Utley, Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz) are in the final year of their deals with the club while others (Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon) still have a number of years and a lot of money headed their way.
In order to get some impact prospects in mid-season deals, teams usually have to eat some salary of departing players (in this case: Lee and Papelbon). General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. usuallytries to buck the trend and this is no different.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb reports that Amaro does not have any intention of retaining any salary in the event of a trade involving Lee or Papelbon citing that their value is so high that teams would be willing to pay all of their salary.
Lee, 34, is owed over $70 million through 2015 but has strong numbers to support the paycheck going 9-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP for a Phillies team that isn't very good. Papelbon, 32, is owed over $30 million through 2015 and also has a vesting option for 2016. He, like Lee, has performed well up until late going 2-0 with 15 saves in 19 opportunities while putting up a 2.05 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP.
The fits for Papelbon are easy to see: Detroit and Boston. Papelbon to Detroit has been discussed before and seems like a logical fit as they have the farm system to aid the Phillies, namely 3B/OF Nick Castellanos. As for Lee, the Phillies are likely going to ask for a king's ransom in return - and rightly so. It is tough to see what kind of prospect Lee could fetch while the other team takes on all of Lee's contract.
There is no doubt that Lee and Papelbon are the Phillies most coveted trade pieces. They are coveted for a reason.
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