Two years ago, CC Sabathia was the hottest pitcher on the trade market and in free agency. That is the same situation former Indians teammate Cliff Lee finds himself.



Lee is expected to be dealt by the July 31 trade deadline. Despite his looming free agency, the lefty with three straight complete games will likely command a significant return.

The Yankees will always be linked to big-ticket players but considering their current rotation anchored by Sabathia and reluctance to part with big prospects, it appears Lee will be favored to sign with the Yankees.

That is how it played out with Sabathia two years ago. He wound up getting dealt to the Brewers and pitched Milwaukee to the playoffs before signing a seven-year deal with the Yankees.

“The first time I met CC was in the winter meetings,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We sat down, had a discussion. We had a nice discussion and told him what a great place it is to play, my experiences here and what it was like. I just told him how great it was.”

Sabathia has been great here. After winning 19 games, Sabathia is 9-3 and has won five straight starts for the third time in his career and a win today will give him double digits before the All-Star break for the second time.

Performances like those often lead to standing ovations from Yankee Stadium cheers and it is highly possible Lee could hear some in 2011.

“I’ve always enjoyed pitching here,” Lee said Tuesday. “They’re knowledgeable fans. They understand the game and get into it. As a player, that’s what you like and respect.”

Weekend Storylines to look ahead to:

1 – Will AJ get it going – A.J. Burnett’s last five starts have produced an unsightly 11.35 ERA. All those happened without pitching coach Dave Eiland. Eiland has returned from a private personal matter and worked with Burnett in the bullpen in preparation for Friday’s start against Toronto.

2 – Which Yankees will be All-Stars? – The All-Star game starters will be announced Sunday afternoon. In the final voting results released Monday, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter enjoyed leads at their position. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were second in their race. Players were currently filling out the ballots and manager Joe Girardi will fill out the rest of the AL roster.

3 – Was it a blip for Hughes? - Phil Hughes turned in his worst start Tuesday by allowing 10 hits and seven runs. He also has not pitched well in his last three starts but is 10-2. He will have a chance to rebound Sunday afternoon against the Jays.