MLB Trade Rumors: Cliff Lee AND Victor Martinez to LA?

Cliff LeeWhile 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…

  • Isis

    Salary dump time…….Dolan’s are desperate. Shapetti will do anything to save face, and they won’t stand pat and lose their jobs.

    You may be intrigued with both Kershaw and Billingsley, but you’ll only get one-and that’s for BOTH Vic and Cliff. Shapetti has also offered Vic and Cliff as a package to Tampa Bay. Getting BOTH Vic and Cliff and giving up a single starter and a lesser package is simply stiffing the Tribe.

    Desperate people do desperate things. Cliff and Vic won’t make it to the 31st.

  • Boomhauer

    I think a team getting Cliff and/or Vic must also take Peralta in a trade.

  • Chris M


    /Head asplodes

    I like Loney, but really?

  • adam

    as exciting as these prospects are, the whole state of the tribe just depresses me

  • Isis

    @2Boomhaeur-that MUST be a condition of any trade!

  • Isis

    How about Shapetti platoons Garko and Loney and leaves LaPorta to rot away in Columbus?

  • DP Diesel

    If you believe the “operative” in Pluto’s last piece, the Tribe has no plans to give up on Peralta.

  • DK

    I think anything that brings us more young quality almost ready guys isnt necessarily a bad thing…if we get lucky on a few of them, thats great…but Lee and VMart wont be here after next year anyways…i would like to see them stay, but we all know we cant shell out the $ to do so…

  • Isis

    “If we get lucky on a few of them”. Wow….you sound like the Shapetti management team.

    Not exactly the management style of champions.

  • Illmatic8

    Unless we realistically think we can win it next year, then this trade would be a no-brainer. History has proven that we won’t be able to resign Lee and Martinez. Maybe Victor gives us a hometown discount but no chance with Cliff Lee. Billingsley and Kershaw are 2 of the best young pitchers in the league so either would be a major coup. Loney is very solid and one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball. Plus we are rumored to be getting additional strong prospects in the deal. I hate the state of baseball and the fact that we can’t resign our studs. But due to that fact, deals like this are the only way we can have hope for the future.

  • scotty p

    @2 I like the idea of “buy 2, get Peralta free” marketing campaign.

  • Lebron3eb

    @2, I think you must also have to play peralta at least in 75% of the games too.

  • LeBrowns23

    well at least I’d have a good team to root for in the dodgers

  • Aaron in LA

    There is NO reason for LA to deal either Billingsley or Kershaw. They don’t need a single pitcher upgrade to advance to the WS. They need an ace so Kershaw or Billingsley become the #3 man. If Lee gets on the DL, LA would have given away the farm and lost the postseason. You also don’t want to mess with the chemistry of young talent that has created the best record in the game… even without Manny Ramirez. Lee is EXACTLY the pitcher LA needs, but it should be for Russell Martin, James MacDonald (probably a year behind Kershaw in development) and prospects. Ausmus can handle catching duty for the remainder of the season. Go see

  • Mike Jones

    If the dodgers could get a for real 5th starter without giving up their current pitching staff would be more dominant then they r right now with a lower league leading ERA then they do now.

  • Samuel Isaiah Garner