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Cliff Lee to begin rehab assignment with Single-A Clearwater

Despite all the bad news that is surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies, they got some encouraging news today about starting pitcher Cliff Lee. According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Cliff Lee will begin a rehab assignment with Clearwater on Sunday.

This is encouraging news as Lee threw 60 pitches in a three inning simulated game on Tuesday afternoon with no trouble at all. Lee is recovering from a left elbow strain and has not pitched since May 18 against the Cincinnati Reds. In that game, the Phillies won 8-3 and Lee got the decision. He threw 6 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits and two runs in the process.

Over the course of the season, he has a 4-4 record with a 3.18 ERA. If Lee can come back strong after the All-Star break, then he could be a valuable trade piece for the Phillies. The only question when it comes to Lee is who will take on his contract.

This season, Lee is making $25 million, then in 2015 he will be making $25 million again and finally in the 2016 season he has a $27.5 million vesting option or a $12.5 million buyout. Basically, Lee got a huge contract from Ruben Amaro Jr. which makes him almost untradeable.

But if Lee can come out and perform at a high level then a team that is in contention might the bullet and trade for the 35-year-old All-Star pitcher.