AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- While the Philadelphia Phillies struggle to achieve even a winning record, speculation persists that Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon will be available before next month's non-waiver trade deadline.
That's not necessarily the case.
"Absolutely not, because these are guys I'd be better off having on my club than not," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told The Associated Press. "Who am I going to replace these guys with to win a championship? These are championship-caliber players. If we think about moving these guys, then I better be getting someone of better or equal value and I just don't see that happening."
Lee is 9-2 with a 2.53 ERA. The 34-year-old lefty is signed for two more years at $25 million per plus a vesting option for 2016. He's already been traded three times, including twice before the deadline.
Papelbon began the year 13 for 13 in save tries before blowing two chances during a three-game series against defending NL East champion Washington. He's signed for two more years at $13 million per plus a vesting option for 2016.
Amaro and other GMs in similar situations -- non-contending clubs with high-priced veterans -- have to make a tough decision before July 31. Will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?
At this point, it's too early to make that determination.
The Phillies are 35-38 and entered Thursday eight games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and 7
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.