Indians considering trading ace Lee to Rays

The Rays and Indians have discussed a trade that would send Cleveland ace Cliff Lee to Tampa Bay, major league sources said, but the sides didn’t appear close to a deal as of late Wednesday evening.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro is asking for multiple high-end prospects in return for the left-hander. He is believed to prefer right-hander Wade Davis as the primary chip in the deal. So far, the Rays have balked at including him.

But there might be another way to get this deal done.

The Rays are trying to involve a third team in an attempt to satisfy Cleveland’s prospect demands, major league sources told senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal. The third club would provide a second pitcher of the Indians’ liking.

Tampa Bay has been active in trade talks on many fronts, sources said, and Lee is just one of many options the team has considered.

Because of the Rays’ relatively modest revenues, it wouldn’t necessarily be easy for them to absorb Lee’s remaining salary — roughly $2 million between now and the end of this season and a $9 million team option next year.

Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman is reluctant to part with Davis, particularly after dealing away starters Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel since the end of last season. In general, the team’s financial structure necessitates a certain reliance on young, controllable arms such as Davis, who is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA at Class AAA Durham this year.

Davis is regarded within the industry as being one notch below the likes of elite prospects like Tommy Hanson and Clay Buchholz. But the disparity is not great. Davis, 23, runs his fastball up to 95 miles per hour and would instantly become the best young starting pitcher in the Cleveland organization.

Davis, who has yet to appear in the majors, struck out nine and allowed one earned run over 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision at Indianapolis on Wednesday.

The Rays would probably be more comfortable moving shortstop Reid Brignac than Davis, due in large part to the middle infield depth they currently have in the majors (Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist and the injured Akinori Iwamura).

Brignac, 23, would be a good fit for the Indians, at a time when the organization needs an infusion of young everyday players. He’s having a strong offensive season at Durham and batted .271 during a big-league call-up earlier this year. He has spent most of his career as a shortstop but has played some second base.

Tampa Bay has also shown interest in a number of relievers, sources said, including Toronto’s Jason Frasor and Oakland’s Michael Wuertz. (Cleveland’s Rafael Betancourt is not on their radar, as had been previously reported.)

The Phillies are another major player in the market for Lee. (But because their rotation presently includes three left-handers, they would prefer right-hander Roy Halladay.) The Brewers, Dodgers and Rangers have also shown interest in Lee.

Twins looking for infield help

With the news that Joe Crede’s right shoulder will be examined Thursday by Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Twins’ search for infield help could become more intense.

In theory, Minnesota GM Bill Smith could pursue upgrades at third base, second base or shortstop.

The Twins have already discussed shortstop Orlando Cabrera with the A’s, sources said Wednesday, and he might be the best fit of all.

He’s hitting .304 over his last 60 games, according to His right-handed bat would fit nicely in the No. 2 hole, behind Denard Span and ahead of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, all of whom are left-handed.

And let’s not forget the most important statistic involving Cabrera: He has been on a playoff team in four of the past five seasons.

If Crede’s prognosis isn’t encouraging, Minnesota officials may need to reassess their list of possible infield upgrades. Pittsburgh’s Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez are available, as is Toronto’s Marco Scutaro.

Kansas City’s Mark Teahen is a more remote possibility, as it’s unclear if Smith is willing to deal within the division.

The Twins had a lousy trip to Oakland this week, losing games by 14-13 and 16-1 scores. Yet, they are only 2 ½ games back in the eminently winnable American League Central.

A’s, Tigers can’t agree on Holliday deal

There is no match between the A’s and Tigers for Oakland left fielder Matt Holliday, a major league source told senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal.

The A’s gave the Tigers a list of prospects that they would want to discuss for Holliday, but the talks failed to progress.

The Tigers’ farm system is thin on impact position players, and they would need to make their best young prospects available to tempt the A’s.

So far, Detroit hasn’t been willing to discuss hard-throwing left-hander Casey Crosby, perhaps the organization’s best prospect now that Rick Porcello is in the big league rotation.

The Giants, too, are not expected to be a serious player for Holliday, who since May 31 has produced an impressive .892 OPS.