According to the New York Post, the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Cliff Lee from the Mariners for a package that includes top prospect Jesus Montero.
Lee, the Mariners ace, is scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight in Seattle. It's unclear whether he would make that start or whether the deal can be completed in time for the Mariners to pull him.
If it goes through, the trade would make the Yankees the overwhelming favorite to repeat as World Series champions. Lee has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, with an 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA, 89 strikeouts and six walks and five complete games.
Lee beat the Yankees twice in the 2009 World Series when he was with the Phillies. The Phillies traded him to the Mariners after they acquired Roy Halladay. Lee is a free agent after the season; it was widely assumed the Yankees would make a big pitch for him as a free agent.
But, obviously, general manager Brian Cashman has decided not to wait.
In Montero, the Mariners would be getting a 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher. Montero's defensively abilities are in question, but there is little question about his bat, even though his is hitting just .253 with six HRs and 35 RBIs in Triple-A this season.
The Post report also suggested the Yankees could make a second trade if Lee is acquired. The Phillies are looking for pitching and the Yankees are looking for a righthanded hitting outfielder/DH, so a Javier Vazquez-Jayson Werth swap could make sense. Both players are free agents after the season.
Or the Yankees could keep Vazquez and put Phil Hughes back in the bullpen; their relievers in front of Mariano Rivera have been the weakest part of the team.