In Miami's ongoing quest to find reliable starting pitching help behind José Fernández (that is, if they don't trade him), the rumor mill has a tidbit that probably involves the Fish. Two days ago, Joe Frisaro stated that the Marlins "were open to signing Cliff Lee." Now, we have this from Jon Heyman:
Cliff Lee drawing interest from 15 clubs— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 7, 2015
Is Miami among the fifteen teams interested in Cliff Lee? With at least a 50% chance and Frisaro's report, odds are good that the answer is yes.
We know what Cliff Lee has been. Cy Young Award winner, NL East destroyer, accumulator of 47.4 WAR (which puts him in striking distance of the top 100 pitchers of all time, an amazing feat given that he didn't really turn it on until after his age 30 season). The real question is, what is Cliff Lee now, today? Cliff Lee is 37 years old, will be 38 before the end of next season, and is coming off of a year and a half absence due to a flexor tendon tear in his left elbow.
Can he still pitch at a quality, if not elite, level? Apparently many teams are willing to find out. Looking at it objectively, I don't think he's likely to sign with the Marlins nor is he the greatest fit. After all, the Fish just parted with Henderson Álvarez because of injury concerns, and if they didn't want to pay him almost four million dollars, why would they want to pay the older, rehabbing Lee the same if not more? All in all, it sounds like a risk they'd be willing to take at the right price, but how long does the price stay right with this amount of interest?
Lee was originally drafted by the Marlins back in 1997, but chose to attend college instead of sign with the team, ultimately ending up with the Cleveland Indians three years later in 2000. Joining the Marlins now would bring the wily vet full circle, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to find a more enticing offer elsewhere.