Lee focused on rest of the season
Left-hander has the right to ask for trade after campaign
PITTSBURGH -- Left-hander Cliff Lee said he is focused on the present, and not the future.
But the future looms for Lee, who the Phillies acquired in a July 29 trade with the Indians. Philadelphia holds a $9 million club option on Lee for 2010, but because Cleveland traded Lee in the middle of a multiyear contract, he has the right to demand a trade after the season.
Has Lee seen enough with the Phillies to know if he would invoke that right or not?
"I'm not even worried about that at all," Lee said before Thursday's game against the Pirates at PNC Park. "I've given zero thought to it. I'm worried about my next outing against Atlanta [on Saturday]. I really haven't put any thought into that at all."
There is an interesting twist to Lee's right to demand a trade. If he demands a trade and is ultimately traded, Major League Baseball's Basic Agreement states the team that acquires him would own his rights for three seasons. In other words, instead of Lee becoming a free agent after next season when he is 32, he would become a free agent after 2012 when he is 34. In the meantime, he would be a salary-arbitration eligible player potentially playing on one-year contracts.
It seems less likely that Lee would invoke that right. Plus, Lee said, he has enjoyed his time in Philadelphia. How could he not? He is 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in five starts and the Phillies hold a comfortable lead in the National League East.
"I like it here," Lee said. "I'm happy here. Things are going good."
But the future?
"I'll worry about that when the time comes," Lee said.
So will the Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., asked if the team would consider a contract extension for Lee in the near future, said officials are focused on the 2009 season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.