Lee could not block trade to Cards

Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee has stocked his 20-team no-trade provision with contending clubs — a wise move, considering that gives him the best chance to negotiate benefits in return for waiving those rights.

But there is one notable exception on the list: the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals are one of the nine teams that can acquire Lee without his permission, major league sources told FOX Sports.

Lee, 34, apparently left the Cardinals off his list for two reasons: He figured they would be unlikely to trade for him because they have an excellent rotation and good pitching depth in the farm system, and he’s also said to be intrigued by the idea of playing for the Cardinals — thanks to their winning culture, their proximity to his Arkansas home and the ability to continue hitting in the National League.

The Cardinals, with the best rotation ERA in the majors, don’t appear to be in the market for starting pitching now. But it’s not out of the question that they would have interest in acquiring Lee because of his October track record and three years of club control beyond this season.

If the Phillies trade Lee, they almost certainly would ask for high-end young pitching to augment their rotation in 2014 and beyond.

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