Cliff Lee Option No. 2 for Phillies: Report

With the MLB trade deadline looming, all anyone wanted to talk about was Roy Halladay. There was so much talk in fact, that everyone seemed to ignore the fact that rumblings continued about other trades.

It was like last year all over again.

The Phillies were looking to score with a big name -- one C.C. Sabathia.

But that didn’t happen. Rather the Phillies “settled” for a lesser pitcher. But since he signed last year, Joe Blanton has turned into a staple for the team. He won two games in the postseason and posted a 7-4 record with a 4.11 ERA so far this season.

Don’t let the Blanton's overall numbers fool you. The burly righty has turned on his game in the month of July. He has won all four games he started logging a total of 29.2 innings while only giving up four runs for a monthly ERA of 1.21.

This year, the Phillies again are trying to score big. Considered by many to be one the top three pitchers in the league, a Halladay trade would be huge.

But it would be costly. The Blue Jays want prospect Kyle Drabek, 7-win starter J.A. Happ as well as outfield prospects Dom Brown or Michael Taylor, according to CSN Philly.

But a storyline that was seemingly suppressed was that the Phillies were also in talks to get former AL Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee, in case the Halladay deal falls apart.

Forget the backup plan.

Sign Lee now and save the farm.

While his numbers this year aren’t stellar (6-9, 3.17 ERA), you have to take into account that Lee plays in the AL and also pitches for one of the worst teams in the league in the Cleveland Indians, Phillies Nation says.

But if you look at his numbers last year -- a 22-3 record with a 2.54 ERA -- signing Lee could turn out almost as good as Halladay, but without giving up the future.

A package of second-tier prospects like pitcher Carlos Carrasco and infielder Jason Donald might just be enough to get Lee to Philly, a source told the Inquirer.

While there was no word yet on exactly what the Indians want, the asking price wouldn’t be as high as for Halladay, a source told

The only problem -- Lee may be too accessible, according to Scouting The Sports. The Phillies were seemingly the only team still in talks for Halladay, while every team  with a pitching need (which included the Mets) could potentially be vying for Lee.

Still, Lee could be the Joe Blanton of 2009. And Blanton didn’t have a Cy Young.

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