The Philadelphia Phillies are set to be sellers at this year's trade deadline, but it appears that left-hander Cole Hamels may be off the market, as WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports that the Phillies "are currently showing no inclination" of dealing their ace. Instead, Philadelphia seems to prefer departing with another southpaw starter in Cliff Lee, per CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
The 30-year-old Hamels has been linked to the Boston Red Sox, but there doesn't appear to be any recent discussions between the two clubs. The asking price for Hamels has been reported to be quite high, and adding in his 20-team no-trade clause, it was unlikely that the three-time All-Star would be dealt.
Hamels is owed $90 million through 2018 (plus a $20 million club option for 2019 that turns into a $24 million vesting option if he throws 400 innings in 2017/2018 and is healthy at the end of the 2018 season) on what remains of a six-year, $144 million extension he signed with the Phillies in 2012. Hamels has been incredibly consistent throughout his nine-year career, owning a 3.35 ERA, 123 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, and 36.4 WAR. Since 2010, he has averaged a 125 ERA+ and 5.3 WAR per season. He is in the midst of another strong season, with a 2.93 ERA, 126 ERA+, 3.28 FIP, and 2.6 WAR through 16 starts and 107.1 innings.
Lee has been dealing with an elbow issue in recent weeks, but is expected back soon, and could make as many as three starts before the deadline. Like Hamels, Lee has a 20-team no-trade clause, but seems to me more open to a trade, expressing an interest in playing for a contending club.
The 35-year-old Lee's market is limited due to his enormous salary. He is being paid $25 million this year and next, and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 that vests if the former Cy Young winner throws 200 innings in 2015 or 400 combined innings in 2014 and 2015. Lee has been among the best pitchers in baseball over the past seven years, and has continued his dominance this season, posting a 3.18 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 6.78 K/BB, and 1.6 WAR in 68 innings.
The Phillies are currently 42-53, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has finally shown a willingness to sell. Along with Lee and Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Domonic Brown, AJ Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins have been mentioned as possible trade candidates, though the latter two are rather unlikely due to their 10/5 rights and longtime standing with the club.