July 08, 2010

The Rays, Twins, Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, Reds, Red Sox and Mets are among the 12 to 15 teams that have inquired about star Mariners left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, and Seattle is said to be targeting big-time prospects in return, such as Yankees' catching prospect Jesus Montero, Rangers' first-base prospect Justin Smoak, Twins' catching prospect Wilson Ramos and young Rays pitcher Wade Davis.

"Seattle is still asking for a lot,'' one interested GM said.

The Twins are said to be "for real'' by one competing team, while other sources suggest there are "interesting possibilities'' there -- although, one executive on another team questioned whether the Twins had enough to do a deal with just their minor leaguers, even if, as expected, Ramos is included. Foxsports.com suggested major-league starter Kevin Slowey could be part of a deal. Slowey was discussed by the Mariners a couple years ago in a potential Jarrod Washburn trade.

The Rangers, who along with the Rays and Yankees may have the best minor-league packages to offer, are said by an executive with another team to have discussed young first baseman Chris Davis and young catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a package for Lee. But the Mariners are believed to prefer Smoak and want more than a Davis-Saltalamacchia tandem, anyway, especially with the bankrupted Rangers likely to need Seattle to pay the $4 million or so remaining on Lee's $9 million salary.

The Mariners requested at least three prospects from the Yankees, including Montero, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. But while the Yankees are dealing from strength (they have two more good catching prospects in Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez), they do not have have a major need in their rotation and are unlikely to overpay under the circumstances.

The Phillies are said to have an interest in bringing Lee back, as well. Undoubtedly, the Mariners would love top outfield prospect Domonic Brown. But the Phillies may have a hard time trading him for Lee when they didn't receive any prospects of that ilk in their Lee trade to Seattle.

The Rays are clearly involved, and the young right-hander Davis is someone on the Mariners' radar. A source weeks ago said that talented outfielder B.J. Upton's name came up in talks, but a Rays source seemed to suggest Upton hasn't yet been offered. Foxsports.com mentioned Upton's name as a possibility.

The Reds have first base prospect Yonder Alonso and third base prospect Juan Francisco. But it seems uncertain how actively involved they are at the moment.

The Mets' chances are hurt by the current question about top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia. The Mariners would want left-hander Jonathon Niese or first baseman Ike Davis, two players the Mets consider untouchable, and are unlikely to settle for infielder Ruben Tejada or outfielder Fernando Martinez. If they can't get Lee, the Mets may turn their attention to Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly if he becomes available, as Newsday reported.

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