Reports: Phillies Listening on Lee and Hamels
ESPN and CBSSports.com reported the Phillies have told teams they will listen to offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Now why in the world would the Phillies do that? Well, it is important to note that listening is different than trading. But if some team is willing to offer premium talent for Hamels or Lee — and take their entire salary to boot — it would be foolish not to listen.
It would be foolish, however, to trade one of them for a package that does not address numerous and immediate needs. After all, what was the purpose of extending Chase Utley, signing Marlon Byrd and resigning Carlos Ruiz if the Phillies are not trying to win the next couple seasons?
The Phillies better than anybody know the risks of trading a top starting pitcher for young talent. They traded Lee to the Mariners in Dec. 2009 for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. They also have acquired Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt for prospects that included Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Taylor, J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.
Have any of those players come back to haunt the Phillies yet?
How certain can the Phillies be that the players they would get in return for Hamels or Lee would make a difference?
It also must be noted there are obstacles involved in any potential Hamels and Lee talks. First, both have limited no-trade clauses. Second, they are owed a ton of money. Hamels is owed $118.5 million over the next five years, which includes $22.5 million in salary each of the next five seasons, plus a $6 million buyout for a vesting option in 2019. Lee is owed $62.5 million over the next three years, which includes $25 million in salary each of the next two seasons, plus $12.5 million buyout for a vesting option for 2016.
If the Phillies trade either of them the other team must take their salary, which limits potential partners. The Phillies last ate money in a trade in 2005, when they shipped Jim Thome to the White Sox.
There are reasons it makes sense for the Phillies to listen. They have holes everywhere. They need to get younger. They could use the payroll relief. But there are plenty of reasons it won’t happen, too.