By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There was a time, on a late December night, that all of Philadelphia celebrated as the Phillies became the “mystery team” in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. It was just a year and a half ago, but it sure feels like forever.

Today, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports is reporting that the Phillies are willing to trade Lee.

The Phillies, pushed into sell mode after they were swept over the weekend in Atlanta, have indicated to teams that they’re willing to discuss Cliff Lee, sources say.

A deal for Lee remains complicated, because his contract is so big and because the Phillies will want so much in return. But with Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke off the market, Lee could still be the perfect answer for teams like the Rangers and Dodgers.

As reported back on July 18, the Rangers have interest in a reunion with Lee, whose arrival in July 2010 helped send them to their first World Series.

The Phillies have told Lee in recent weeks that he won’t be traded, and reported last Friday that the Phils were telling other teams the same thing. But circumstances change, and the Phillies’ disastrous showing against the Braves has them rethinking their strategy.

Via Phillies Indiciate They May Trade Lee, Rangers interested by Danny Knoblber on CBS Sports

Lee will make $25 million next year, and moving his salary would give the Phillies some room to fill other needs in the off-season (center field, left field, third base, perhaps right field if Pence is traded).  Still, it would be pretty shocking.

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