Yankees keeping tabs on Phillies’ Cliff Lee

With 80 percent of their Opening Day rotation on the disabled list, starting pitching is a top priority for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline approaches.

There has been speculation that the Yankees and Cliff Lee could finally be a match after several close calls in the past, with Lee returning to the mound in a 7-4 Phillies loss to the Giants on Monday. Yet the Yankees were “just observers” for that start, the New York Post reported, citing a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

Acquiring Lee, whom the Yankees chased twice in 2010, could be expensive. Lee turns 36 next month and is due $25 million next season; the Phillies want the acquiring club to pick up a major portion of the salary. Lee would also receive a $12.5 million buyout if a $27.5 million team option is not picked up for 2016.

Lee has missed most of this season with a left elbow strain and hadn’t pitched since May 18. Another potential roadblock is Lee’s no-trade clause. The Yankees are among the 20 teams that Lee can block a trade to, according to FOX Sports.

– Bryan Hoch

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