Allow me to preface this with the fact that there is almost no buzz about this possibility. I am simply acting on my own wonder; aided by little tidbits of information found strewn about the murky depths of the baseball interwebs. But I will present this question to you all anyway: Why don't the Orioles sign Cliff Lee?
Apart from my own brainstorming, there is a teeny tiny bit of traction behind the idea. It comes from MASN's Roch Kubatko. On his blog last week, he mentioned that Orioles Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Dan Duquette had been asked specifically about the possibility of bringing Lee on board. He didn't deny that it could happen.
"Every year we try to sign some pitchers that are coming back from injuries," Duquette said. "They're generally veteran pitchers. Some people call that the Red Cross list. So, we have a couple pitchers like that we're considering."
And I assume that since Kobatko is asking the question that he has to at least think or have heard that Lee is a possible fit in Baltimore. I mean, he is left-handed and breathing so he is probably a fit just about anywhere.
We have been here before. The Orioles just went through this with another former Cy Young Award winner, Johan Santana, back in 2014. Remember? Things seemed to be improving and it looked like he was going to be a valuable, late-season addition to either the rotation or bullpen and provide the perfect push for the team heading into the playoffs. Then he tore his Achilles.
Lee would come with plenty of his own health-related baggage. In 2014, he was twice sidelined with the dreaded "elbow discomfort". And then he missed all of last season with the same elbow. Reports say that he has begun throwing again and wants to pitch in 2016 on a one-year deal.
clifff lee looking for 1 year MLB deal. since upside great, he probably gets more than you'd think. main goal to win tho.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 8, 2015
The upside is obvious. He has won the Cy Young and been in the top 10 of voting four more times. Not to mention he has been to the World Series a couple of times too and knows how to perform on the big stage.
Meanwhile, the possible negatives seem minimal. Yes, he could throw one pitch and blow his elbow out again, forcing the O's to eat his salary. But it is just a one-year deal. Unless he is unrealistic with his expectations as far as salary goes, there wouldn't seem to be too terribly much risk involved.
However, there are probably a lot of teams interested in the possibility of bringing in as big of a name as Lee (apparently as many as 15 teams to be exact), whether he is well past his prime or not. So, why would Lee pick the Orioles?
Well, Baltimore did draft him back in 1998 with a pick in the 20th round, but was unable to convince him to skip out on the University of Arkansas. But hey, that shows the organization has liked him for a long time.
As an aging player who has yet to experience the sweet taste of a World Series championship, he is looking for a winner. OK, the Birds were .500 last season, but their track record with Buck Showalter at the helm suggests they will bounce back with a playoff-caliber season in 2016.
The defense could be an alluring factor. As Lee is coming off of an elbow injury, he may not have as much zip on the fastball anymore so guys are going to be putting the ball in play. In 2014 with the Phillies, his ground ball rate was a career high 48.4 percent. If there is anyone you want catching the ball for you, it's guys like J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado.
Of course, you could always look at the other side of logic that says since he is older he may prefer to be closer to family. The Orioles were one of the teams that he could refuse a trade to when he had a no-trade clause (but so were 20 other teams).
The signing of Lee by anyone in baseball is a move that likely will not take place for some time. He needs to get farther into his throwing program and allow teams to take a look at him before anything is written up. I have no doubt the Orioles will be a team that is very interested, but will they be the final choice? You tell me.
Thanks for reading! This was just some food for thought. Would you want Cliff Lee to sign for the O's? If so, for how much? If not, then with who? You can always leave your thoughts down in the comments section or on Twitter @CamdenChat or @_TyYoung.