NEW YORK, NY - : Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Will the Philadelphia Phillies trade away Cole Hamels, who is going to be a free agent after the 2012 season?
No. No, they won't.
But there are minor rumblings, mostly invented by idle hands and blinking cursors. Buster Olney started it, and Ken Rosenthal added fuel to the hot stove with his provocatively titled "Should pitching-rich Phils trade Hamels?"
Trading left-hander Cole Hamels would qualify as a surprise — but no greater a surprise than trading lefty Cliff Lee and acquiring righty Roy Halladay in December 2009, or signing Lee back last offseason.
The rationale is that a) Hamels is going to be a free agent, b) Amaro, Jr. has de-aced his team before, mostly just to mess with us, and c) an extension to Hamels would likely put the Phillies close to $90 million in committed payroll … for 2015. Even for a deep-pocketed team, that's playing with fire. And knees and tendons and hamstrings and general decline. But mostly fire. So it's not completely insane to think that the Phillies aren't going to sign Hamels to a new contract. And if they aren't going to do that, well, maybe they should look into some deals.
But as surprising as the de-aceing was the first time, you'd have to think Amaro, Jr. learned a lesson. He had some weird epiphany that he desperately needed to improve the farm system after trading for Roy Halladay. That kind of long-term thinking wasn't exhibited before or since -- nor should it have been, considering the roster the Phillies have -- and it led to Joe Blanton starting a game in the 2010 National League Championship Series while Cliff Lee was mowing through the American League.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus spoke with a big-league executive and came up of a list of possible packages that Hamels could bring back. It's hard, though, to imagine the Phillies selling any of those packages to their fans and generating a whole lot of excitement, though they could work it into their 2012 slogan:
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It would be a hard sell, even if they wanted to point to Phillippe Aumont as some kind of success story. Never mind that the other two prospects from the Lee deal have been incredibly disappointing, and that Aumont is a raw relief prospect on a team that just committed $50 million to a closer.
And that $50 million isn't incidental. It's a window into Amaro's thinking. There aren't paying Jonathan Papelbon that much money because they expect him to be the best option they'll have in 2015. He's got the contract because that's the price to have Jonathan Papelbon next year. Right around the 2014 offseason, the Phillies will wish the deal allowed them more flexibility. They know that already. But the deal had nothing to do with 2015. It's all about now, now, now.
Which is why there is absolutely no way that the Phillies are going to trade Cole Hamels.
There's a cottage industry that sprung up around the idea that the Phillies are getting old, and that they'll lose 153 games in a couple of years, probably because of all the old, and they'll stink, just you wait, lol old. It's just a smidgen overblown. But the kernel of truth is that the Phillies are built to win now like few other teams. They were built like that when they traded Lee, and while they eventually got him back through free agency, it was still a bizarre move that still doesn't look good with hindsight.
Trading Hamels would be even weirder, considering that the Phillies have picked up two more disappointing playoff exits since then. It's the offseason. Rumors are gonna rumor. I love them! Each and every rumor is like a precious baby sea turtle, and we should cherish it as it runs towards the ocean. We know it will probably be eaten by a bird, but look at that little fellow scamper! That written, Hamels isn't going anywhere. And we all kind of know that.
Though Amaro, Jr. does seem a little crazy, now that you mention it ...