After stubbornly trying to hold on to the past long after their glory had faded, the Philadelphia Phillies have finally accepted reality, acknowledging that it’s time to commit to a rebuild and look toward the future. That process officially began when Jimmy Rollins, the best shortstop in team history, was traded to the Dodgers in December. Marlon Byrd soon followed him out the door in a trade to Cincinnati. Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are likely to follow, if the team can find any takers. It’s going to be a long season — or two or three or four, for that matter — in Philadelphia.
Sooner or later, star lefty Cole Hamels is going to be on the move as well. Because Hamels has by far the most value of any of the remaining Phillies, a potential Hamels deal is the most important thing GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has to get right in managing this rebuilding process. He can’t get this wrong, because a misfire here could set the franchise back even further — and potentially cost him his job.
No deal currently seems close, with various reports indicating that the Phillies are being “unrealistic with their expectations,” asking not only for multiple top-level prospects but also for a team to pick up most or all of the $110 million Hamels likely will be due. (Though Hamels is guaranteed only $96 million, it’s widely assumed that he will insist on his 2020 team option to be picked up immediately in exchange for him waiving his no-trade clause, pushing the total value to $110 million.)
The Phillies are a team that is rich in dollars and poor in talent. Major League Baseball has done its best to limit the avenues by which teams can acquire young talent. So why don’t the Phillies make the tough but necessary call to offer not only to eat some of Hamels’ contract, but a big part of it?
Here’s a look at the likely return the Phils will receive in exchange for Hamels and the best next steps for Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »