COMMENTARY | Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. dismissed rumors that the team was looking to trade Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee as "silly," in an interview on Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia.
Actually, I don't think you should need Amaro to tell you that this rumor is silly. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Trading either Lee or Hamels is the exact opposite of what Amaro has been doing with the Phillies' roster. The Phillies GM has been re-signing his veteran players and adding more veterans, such as outfielder Marlon Byrd, in one last attempt at another championship with his aging core.
It started when Amaro re-signed Hamels last year to a deal that still has five years and $118.5 million remaining. He also re-signed Chase Utley to a two-year, $25 million extension and Carlos Ruiz to a three-year $25.5 million deal. These aren't the moves of a team that would blow it all up by trading one of its top-of-the-rotation pitchers. And make no mistake about it, trading either Lee or Hamels would be the first step in a rebuilding process.
Amaro wants to add starting pitching, not subtract it.
Plus, the Phillies are deep in negotiations with Comcast and FoxSports on a new local television rights deal that will be worth billions. Now is not the time to blow up the roster and rebuild. Now is the time to keep all of their big-name stars and make one last run, which will keep the ballpark full and the ratings up. And that's exactly what Amaro is doing.
If the Phillies don't contend in the first half of the 2014 season, then Lee will be traded. Lee would be the No. 1 target of any team in the playoff race looking for a top starting pitcher who doesn't have a long-term contract. Lee is only guaranteed $62.5 million over the next two seasons ($25 each of the next two seasons and a $12.5 buyout for 2016). That would be the time for Amaro to trade Lee, not now. And again, that would only happen if the Phillies' aging veterans were breaking down again and the team was not in contention for the playoffs.
The Phillies won't be signing one of the top free agent pitchers out there such as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez, though, because they will command four- or five-year deals for around $15+ million per year.
The next tier of free agent pitchers includes Bronson Arroyo, Bartolo Colon, Mike Pelfrey, Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel. If one of those pitchers would accept a two-year deal for around $20, the Phillies would jump to sign him. Personally, I like Arroyo's ground ball tendencies as the best fit for Citizens Bank Park, but he's holding out for a three-year deal right now. We'll see how that plays out.
In the meantime, the Phillies absolutely will not be trading either Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels. Getting rid of either of them would just be silly.
Bob Whalon is a life-long Philadelphia sports fanatic who follows the home teams religiously, but isn't above pointing out what they're doing wrong. The highlight of his sports fandom was the Phillies' 2008 World Championship, and he isn't quite ready to let go of the greatest era of Phillies baseball just yet.
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- Philadelphia Phillies
- Cole Hamels
- Cliff Lee