While Cliff Lee was cruising through the Seattle Mariners yesterday afternoon, and Victor Martinez was given the day off, both players found their names in one of the bigger 2009 trade deadline rumors that we have seen thus far.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has had his ear to the street over the last few months, and has featured Lee and Martinez quite frequently in his updates. But while we have heard rumors of both players being on the trade market, did we ever feel that they would both go to the same team?
The [Los Angeles] Dodgers and Indians are in serious discussions about a blockbuster that would send left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez to Los Angeles for first baseman James Loney, one of the Dodgers’ young starting pitchers and prospects, according to major-league sources. [...]
Lee would replace either left-hander Clayton Kershaw or right-hander Chad Billingsley — it is not known which the Dodgers would part with in the package — giving manager Joe Torre the more experienced starter that he covets.
L.A. loves them some mid-summer sale Indians. It was just a year ago that they dealt are current top prospect Carlos Santana for what was appearing to be a two-month rental of Casey Blake. The rumored package above would also potentially include four other prospects. However, the big names that would be coming back to Cleveland would be Loney and Kershaw/Billingsley. But before we get too caught up in the details…
From Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News…
The Dodgers swiftly and emphatically shot down a published report Sunday that said they were in serious discussions with the Cleveland Indians in a trade that would bring pitcher Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez to the Dodgers while sending James Loney and either Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw and prospects to the Indians.
“It’s completely false,” a Dodgers executive said.
Well, now we’re in yet another he said-he said moment. One would expect the Dodgers to shoot down any rumors as teams tend to not want their ace pitcher (among others) to feel that he’s up for grabs or “not good enough” to get them the World Series. But on the other side of the coin, Rosenthal appears to be by himself in this “update.” One would have to assume that others would be picking up on a deal this big if it were in fact true.
Perhaps the offer was made by the Indians and shot down by the Dodgers? Vice versa?
The Phillies reportedly had their top scout watching Cliff Lee pitch yesterday, and I would like to think that he didn’t disappoint. Having other options for trades always leaves the leverage on your side; with both players under contract beyond this year, the Indians are under no pressure to deal before July 31.
But if the Rosenthal-reported deal were in fact true, both pitchers intrigue me. Billingsley is further along in his development and Kershaw brings some electric stuff. The portion that I’m not so sure about is James Loney. Yes, he’s a solid player and would be able to contribute immediately – most likely at the top of the order. But do we need another first baseman?
We still have Ryan Garko. And if the reports are correct, the team is grooming Matt LaPorta to settle in at first base as a pro. And then if we continue to go down the ranks, we have Beau Mills and Jordan Brown.
I think its safe to say that first base is good to go. Let’s focus on some other areas, say third base or left field? Or another pitcher. Can never have enough of those.
Needless to say, this is all entirely speculation at this point and the next four days will only get worse. Will the front office throw up the white flag for 2010 and beyond? Will they be the team that trades Cy Young winners in back-to-back seasons? Or will they stand pat to their claim that they would only move the abovementioned players for the right deal? Only time will tell…