Reports of Cliff Lee's death were greatly exaggerated. Maybe.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman is reporting the former Phillies left-hander is throwing (a baseball one would presume) again and has been medically cleared to pitch in 2016.
Lee has not pitched in a Major League game since leaving in the third inning of a game against the Washington Nationals on July 31, 2014.
And he has pitched in just three Major League games since mid-May of that year. He missed all of 2015 with elbow and forearm problems, injuries most assumed would result in his retirement.
In fact, the Phils recently bought out the last year of Lee's $27.5 million club option for 2016 for $12.5 million. He'll still collect that cash even if he pitches for another organization.
Lee tried to come back in spring training last year, but when the pain in his elbow returned, he once again refused surgery and decided to take the year off to rest and rehab, consulting his Magic 8-ball for guidance.
He was paid $25 million in 2015, with nary a pitch being thrown.
Cliff had a good run in Philadelphia, going 48-34 with a 2.94 ERA in 118 starts across parts of five seasons, including the last half of 2009 after he arrived via a trade with Cleveland. He struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings during his time with the Phils, walking a scant 1.3 batters per nine with a strikeout-walk ratio of 6.56.
According to Baseball Reference WAR, he was worth 22.3 bWAR. He finished third in the Cy Young voting in 2011 and sixth in 2013, more than earning the money he was paid, even if he chose not to undergo surgery and not to try to pitch in the final year of his deal last season.
Certainly, there are those who will be upset if Lee comes back and pitches effectively for someone else. He will be seen as someone who sat out an entire season, knowing the Phils would be rebuilding and likely heading for a last place finish, something he wanted no part of.
And if Lee is healthy, there will undoubtedly be at least one team that will sign the 37-year-old hurler to a one-year deal in the hopes of getting lucky with the former ace. Should his elbow respond well to the rigors of spring training and the grind of a Major League season, some team could land themselves a huge bargain.
However, the odds are long that he will be as effective as he once was. His velocity could drop, his signature control could be gone, and his arm could give out at any moment, much like it did in his last two years with the Phillies.
Nonetheless, it appears as if Cliff Lee wants to go out on his terms.