Now that Cliff Lee is off the trade market, Chicago Cubs starter Ted Lilly becomes the best available lefty starting pitcher on the market, and remains one of the best two or three available overall. It seems highly likely that, if the Cubs decide to move Lilly and he’s amenable to waiving his limited no-trade clause, the Cubs will be able to find a taker for Lilly. Their first calls no doubt will go out to the losers in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, including the Yankees, Mets, White Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, and division rival Cardinals and Reds, among others.
At least one of those teams – the Mets – have already been attached to Lilly for a couple of weeks now. And according to Joel Sherman, the Mets are expected to “turn strongly” to Lilly, now that Lee is off the market.
When it comes to moving Lilly, there are, of course, some hurdles. There is the aforementioned limited no-trade clause, though Lilly has never indicated a desire to remain in Chicago no matter what. There is also the matter of the $5.5ish million remaining on his deal this year, though the Cubs would be willing to eat some of that, depending on the return.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to trading Lilly, however, is his recent performance. Back-to-back terrible outings in July have seen his ERA climb from 3.12 all the way to 4.08. He gave up five homers in those two starts, and 18 hits in just over 10 innings. They were about as bad as it gets.
Still, he had a 2.53 ERA in June, and sports an excellent 1.15 WHIP. The last two starts notwithstanding, Lilly is generally a durable, consistent starter. He’s also likely to be a Type A free agent, which could further enhance his attractiveness to a team willing to offer him arbitration after the season.