The Phillies are "trying to blow the whole thing up" and trade away key assets, according to a rival executive who spoke to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. It appears as though the team is finally looking to deal some veterans in an effort to get younger, controllable players for the future.
As has been reported over the last couple weeks, the Phillies would love to trade first baseman Ryan Howard. According to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Howard from the Phillies, viewing him as a potential replacement for Billy Butler at the designated hitter spot. Howard is still owed $60 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons, so Philadelphia would have to pick up a significant portion of the salary in any trade.
Salisbury writes that the Tigers and Reds are the teams to watch on outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is reportedly drawing the most trade interest of any Phillies player. Byrd has only one year left on his contract and will be intriguing to teams looking for right-handed power this winter.
Out of all the Phillies who could be available, left-hander Cole Hamels may be the trade chip that will require the biggest return. The Cubs have known to like Hamels for some time, and will likely pursue him again this winter if the Phillies make him available. As Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported today, the Cubs are not one of the twenty teams that Hamels can block a deal to, meaning that the Phillies and Cubs could work out a trade without the southpaw's content. Another potential suitor, the Red Sox, are one of the teams that Hamels can block, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
While nothing appears close to happening at this moment, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. appears to be gauging interest in veterans like Howard, Byrd, Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon at this week's general manager meetings in Phoenix. As the winter goes on, it will be interesting to see if the groundwork laid this week will transform into tangible news out of Philadelphia.