The Philadelphia Phillies' acquisition, trade and re-acquisition of Cliff Lee has been deeply digitally documented. So, there's no reason to rehash those moves. As far as the future goes, it's fair to ask how many more productive seasons this terrific left-hander has left in his body?
Ruben Amaro, Jr. acknowledged an error when he signed Lee to a massive five-year guaranteed free agent contract in December 2010. Through 90+ starts, the returned prodigal son has lived up to his end of the bargain.
Heading into 2014, likely manager Ryne Sandberg should retain the option of pitching the 12-year veteran every fifth day. Lee, along with Cole Hamels, provides 'Ryno' with two number 1 caliber starters.
Hamels turns 30 in December and will have only thrown slightly over 1,600 regular season innings when next season begins. Lee just turned 35 and will have thrown less than 2,100 innings before his first 2014 start. While each athletic longevity is based on individual internal clocks, it's reasonable to make longevity projections based on past history.
Lee hasn't been seriously, or repeatedly, injured and isn't anywhere near the physical level that Roy Halladay (36, 2,700+ innings) quite obviously has sunken to. The Phillies alternate left-handed ace has thrown well this year and should continue to do so through at least 2015.