MAJOR UPDATE (2 p.m.): The Cleveland Indians have agreed to a trade that will send left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies according to Foxsports reporter Ken Rosenthal.
In return the Indians will receive Class A right-hander Jason Knapp, Class AAA right-hander Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson.
Scroll down to see a a brief profile of the prospects.
With this trade the Indians become the first team in baseball history to trade reigning Cy Young winners in back-to-back seasons.
Last year it was left-hander CC Sabathia going to Milwaukee in exchange for pitcher Zach Jackson and prospects Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and Rob Bryson.
With an expiring contract, Sabathia was no more than a second half rental player for the Brewers. Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees in the offseason.
That is not the case with Lee, who is signed through the rest of this season, with a $9 million dollar club option for next season. The Phillies could have Lee for a year and a half, making him more valuable in the trade. Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, is 7-9 this season with a 3.14 ERA. The Phillies will now have four left-handed pitchers in their starting rotation.
The inclusion of Ben Francisco in the trade could open the door for the key players in Sabathia trade to become a part of the major league squad. LaPorta and Brantley could see some of those vacated at bats.
The only concrete sign that a trade may be in the works is that Phillies pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco was scratched from his start this morning for the Phillies Triple A affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, according to lehighvalleylive.com.
The Iron Pigs are beating the Columbus Clippers, The Indians triple A affiliate, 3-0 in the third inning as I type this.
That is the only confirmed information right now. It could mean a lot. It could mean nothing. Check back as more develops.
UPDATE (12:04): The Associated Press is reporting that prospects Lou Marson, a catcher, and shortstop Jason Donald were also out of the Lehigh Valley lineup today. It should be noted that Donald is coming off of knee surgery and Marson caught last night's game, so getting a day off for an 11 a.m. start isn't out of the ordinary either.
UPDATE (12:21): Foxsports senior baseball writers Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi write Class A right-hander Jason Knapp could be the centerpiece of the deal including the other three players.
He is still calling it "discussions" between the two teams. the duo reported that the Dodgers want to make a hard push for Lee today as well.
UPDATE (1:32): Here is a quick look at the prospects who have been mentioned in the rumors:
Lou Marson: Ranked as the third best prospect entering the season by Baseball America. That same publication calls him the "Phillies most polished minor league hitter with the system's best plate discipline and proefssional approach." The catcher is currently hitting .294 with a with 13 doubles and one home run in 211 at bats for Lehigh Valley.
Carlos Carrasco: Carrasco opened the season as the Phillies second best prospect, according to Baseball America. His fastball can reach 96 and his changeup is above average as well, according to Baseball America. This season, the right-hander is 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA for Lehigh Valley. He has struck out 112 in 114 2/3 innings. He has walked 38.
Jason Donald: the No.4 rated prospect in the Phillies organization before the season. Donald rates as having above average power at the plate, but a below average fielder at shortstop. He is more likely to play second or third base. He is hitting .236 at Lehigh Valley with 15 doubles and one home run in 208 at bats.
Jason Knapp: The six-foot-5, 215 pound right hander has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation guy or shut down closer. Baseball America placed him at No. 10 in the organization before the season.
One scout, however, says Knapp's upside is greater than Drabek's, calling the 6-foot-5, 215-pound righty a "Halladay clone."
UPDATE (1:40 ish): this Twitter post from MLB.com beat writer Anthony Castrovince just made me chuckle a bit:
Cliff Lee watching ESPN report about him possibly doing to Philly, with teammates looking on.