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Red Sox Trade Rumors: The Phillies don't want our help with Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon

The Phillies are expecting a lot for Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. And by a lot I mean in addition to taking on their massive contracts.


MLB Daily Dish just published the following story:

Phillies trade rumors: Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon priced VERY HIGH

Underneath that headline, we get a text from Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (via Jon Heyman):

"I'm not trading anyone.''

Well alright then.

As Boston's bullpen and rotation continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate, Red Sox fans have begun to look towards the trade deadline with hopeful eyes. And some of the most interesting possibilities come from the Philadelphia Phillies in the form of the aforementioned players.

Cliff Lee is, of course, amongst the game's best starting pitchers. Jonathan Papelbon still every bit as excellent a closer as when he was in Boston. If it does not make sense for the Phillies, who are realistically not contenders this year and probably not contenders next year to hold on to either of them, it does make sense that they would ask for a return, yes?

To some extent., I suppose. Except that the Phillies really should be kind of desperate here.

Consider the situation: Lee is a 34-year-old owed $50 million over the next two years with a massive option for 2016 that includes a $12.5 million buyout. Jonathan Papelbon is a closer owed $26 million over those same two years, with a vesting option for 2016 that's not terribly difficult to hit.

This is on a Phillies payroll which is burdened now and next year by an aging Jimmy Rollins at $11 million and the abysmal Ryan Howard, owed $25 million for the next three seasons.

If Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon were viewed as team-friendly contracts in any way, shape, or form, then maybe the Phillies would have a reason to hold out for a big return. But is anyone going to give it to them? The Yankees have been seriously reticent to pony up big money to players like Lee of late. The Dodgers are 10 games below .500. The market for a contract like Lee's is incredibly limited, and if Papelbon's is better, it's not by all that much.

The Red Sox could use help, but so could the Phillies right about now. So long as they're expecting a trade partner to both restock their farm system and bail them out financially, the Sox should tell them to keep looking. There are plenty of other trade partners available, and not every one of them will demand a Dodger-level sacrifice or better.

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