Phillies pry Cliff Lee from Indians
World Series champs were considered front-runners for Blue Jays' Halladay
The Philadelphia Phillies, long considered the next destination for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, found a different trade partner on Wednesday.
With the price for Halladay apparently too steep, the defending World Series champions opted for Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco, sending minor-league pitchers Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson to the Indians.
Philadelphia didn't have to include top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, who was coveted by Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
The National League East-leading Phillies are reluctant to trade Drabek — the son of former major-league pitcher Doug Drabek — who is 7-1 with a 3.06 earned-run average at double-A Reading this season.
Toronto also was said to be interested in minor league outfielder Dominic Brown and pitcher J.A. Happ, who has a 7-1 record this season in 24 appearances with the Phillies, including 12 starts. It was a steep price and one Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. chose not to meet.
Carrasco was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday at triple-A Lehigh Valley, while Donald and Marson also weren't in the lineup.
The highly touted Knapp is the centrepiece of the deal, according to many baseball observers.
Lee 'excited' about move
Lee, 30, is 7-9 in 22 starts this season with a 3.14 ERA on the heels of a 22-win season in 2008 that helped him win the Cy Young Award as the American League's top pitcher.
"I'm going to miss all these guys here, but it's an opportunity for me to help a team that's in first place," Lee said after the Indians lost to the Los Angeles Angels 9-3.
"[The Phillies are] the defending world champions. So as far as that goes, I'm excited. But right now I've got to figure out how to get there and meet up with them and get acclimated to their team."
Lee, who's contract includes a reasonable $8 million club option for 2010, gives the Phillies another top starter to join fellow southpaw Cole Hamels, last year's World Series MVP who has struggled this season. He's 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA, although he pitched well in a Tuesday night victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Philadelphia has sought pitching help since No. 2 starter Brett Myers had hip surgery in June. Forty-six-year-old Jamie Moyer leads the staff with 10 wins, but he has a 5.32 ERA.
Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is Friday at 4 p.m. ET.
With files from The Associated Press