The rumors of the Phillies trading ace Cliff Lee are apparently just that: rumors. According to a report, the Phils have decided they're not dealing Lee, meaning the "Big Three" will stay locked up for the foreseeable future, thanks to Cole Hamels' recent extension.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com brings us this news, and if Phillies fans were happy about the Hamels extension, they should be equally thrilled about keeping Lee. As Heyman writes, the two were actually intertwined.
"One person with ties to the Phillies said team higherups believe trading Lee would potentially undo most or all the good that was done by extending Cole Hamels and that the team's plan is to build around its trio of great starters," Heyman writes.
Not that this is necessarily shocking news or anything, though -- as Dash wrote earlier on Friday, the likelihood of the Phils moving Lee in the both the short- and long-term was pretty low.
There were several factors surrounding Lee that made him tough to deal. One, his contract. It's quite large. Another team would need to be willing to take on a lot of money, even for an elite starter like Lee. Two, he's an elite starter! The Phils locked him up in free agency (after he took a discount, no less) and dealing him now doesn't make a ton of sense, unless he's bringing back a haul. (Interestingly, when Lee was traded before, the team dealing him didn't get a lot in return.)
And three, it would be a bad sign for this year and next year: the Phillies believe they can contend this season and again in 2013. This year seems a little nuts, but given that they're less than 10 games back of the Wild Card, it's hard to fault them for thinking they can make a run. The NL East might be out of reach, but just ask the 2011 Braves how guaranteed a playoff spot is.
Next season is an issue for the off-season, but starting out with Halladay/Lee/Hamels and the hitters they've got is a pretty good nucleus. Which is precisely why the Phils aren't moving Lee now.