ESPN’s Buster Olney dropped this doozy from the Winter Meetings this morning:
The Phillies have indicated to other teams they are ready and willing to talk about Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in trades.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 10, 2013
Let’s start with the money. Cliff Lee is owed a total of $62.5 million over the next two seasons. He’ll make $25 million per season and has a $12.5 million buyout. Hamels just signed his $144 million pact that takes him to 2018 making $23.5 million per year. Each is worth their weight in gold, so the money isn’t an issue. And the Phillies seemingly have plenty of it.
Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com also tweeted this morning that the Phillies have made it known they will not eat any money on the contract.
What can they get in return? Lee would bring less back in a deal due to his age, but his short contract makes him very attractive. Hamels would likely bring back a massive haul, although the question then becomes, if you’re going to build, a 29-year-old pitcher would be a good start, right? Especially one who has shown the ability to stay healthy.
Another question is, and I instantly thought this – why bring back Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, and sign Marlon Byrd if you’re going to break down the strength of your team; the rotation? How does that help?
With that said, I understand if they want to unload Lee because of his age and the growing possibility that his body begins to break down as he turns 36 in August. Even if the Phillies find a match, Lee would have to OK it. He has a limited no-trade clause and can block deals to 21 teams. If Lee were to be dealt, and the same goes for Hamels, you’d have to bring back can’t miss, major-league ready talent. Do you believe in the ability of the front office to do so?
That might be the most important question of all. If the front office is serious about it, would the Phillies be able to score a good trade in return? Ruben Amaro has shown the ability to score large trades by giving up his own young talent, but can he get it in return? It’s not something he’s ever had to do.
Freeing up the salary of Lee might also allow the Phillies to get involved with Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka, an interesting possible-free agent who went 24-0 a year ago.
The clubhouse culture also seems to be in need of an overhaul. Jonathan Papelbon has never been a fit and the veterans on this team have grown rather comfortable in their positions. There isn’t true leadership within the locker room, and no matter what you think of that overall statement, accountability was sorely lacking last season. As Cole Hamels told PhillyMag.com, there was finger pointing going on, and that was on top of the public comments made by Papelbon who stated he “didn’t sign up for this.”
There’s really no doubt the team itself is in need of a major tune up or reconstruction.
Do you put stock in this rumor? Or are the Phillies just trying to plant seeds to see what players could be had?