Outside of the San Diego Padres, possibly no team has been talked about more over the past couple months than the Philadelphia Phillies. At the onset of a long-awaited rebuilding phase, the Phillies have already dealt away a number of veterans this winter, including Marlon Byrd and longtime franchise cornerstone Jimmy Rollins. However, Philadelphia may not be done with its pre-season overhaul, as a number of players appear to be on the block, and may be playing elsewhere come Opening Day.
The linchpin of the Phillies' rebuild is undoubtedly the forthcoming trade of southpaw starter Cole Hamels, who could potentially net them a strong group of prospects and young players. As GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, "eight teams have kicked the tires" on Hamels this offseason, with four reportedly making "real offers." However, one of those teams, the San Diego Padres (who reportedly made an "aggressive offer" for Hamels), is likely out of the running after the signing of James Shields.
With a number of highly regarded prospects, the Boston Red Sox have long been considered a match, however, as USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports, Boston refuses to part with catching prospect Blake Swihart, making a potential deal less likely. The Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, and Rangers have also been tied to Hamels at one point or another.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon has also been notably shopped by the Phillies, nearly being dealt to the Brewers in late January, before the trade fell apart on the basis of financial reasons. The 34-year-old is owed $13 million in 2015, with a $13 million vesting option for 2016 that has a good chance of being reached, making his contract difficult to move relative to his position. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes, the Brewers had been asking the Phillies to pick up a significant amount of Papelbon's salary, however, the Phillies were requesting a "top prospect" in order to do so. With talks apparently stalled out at the moment, Philadelphia may find this summer a more opportune time to deal Papelbon.
While Hamels and Papelbon have been the most talked about names, the club is also willing to move first baseman Ryan Howard and left-hander Cliff Lee. Of course, both are owed monstrous sums over the next couple seasons that will likely make it difficult for the Phillies to receive an adequate return. The 35-year-old Howard, who has performed disastrously over the past few years but may still be able to provide value in a platoon role, is owed $25 million in each of the next two seasons, and will also require $10 million to buyout his 2017 club option.
Lee, 36, is in somewhat of a different situation, as he is still a very productive player, though he made just 13 starts in 2014 due to an elbow injury, and is owed $25 million next season, with a $27.5 million vesting option ($12.5 million buyout) for 2016.
Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Phillies have also been looking to add a veteran shortstop and catcher, though any acquisitions are likely to come after the start of Spring Training. Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz are currently slated to start at shortstop and catcher, respectively.