Cole Hamels is not convinced the Phillies will have a winning record in 2015. Manager Ryne Sandberg told reporters he feels Philadelphia has a "chance to surprise people," but according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, Hamels said he wants to win and that he "knows it will not happen here."
Hamels, 31, is coming off of a 2014 campaign during which he posted a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 204.2 innings pitched. He has proven to be durable throughout the course of his career, and his $22.5 million a year salary is comparatively low considering the deal Max Scherzer received from the Nationals. While the Phillies are not in a hurry to trade Hamels, he could be dealt before the start of the regular season. Philadelphia is looking to rebuild, and it may take a few seasons for them to emerge as a contender in the National League East.
Since the start of the offseason, the Phillies have been seeking younger prospects in exchange for members of their veteran core. Jimmy Rollins was sent to Los Angeles in December, Marlon Byrd was traded to Cincinnati, and Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, and Cliff Lee are all available, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Hamels signed the largest contract in Phillies history, a six-year, $144 million deal, and he reportedly had "every intention of staying" in Philadelphia for the duration of the deal before the club began trading away several starters.
Although the Phillies are confident they can be competitive moving forward, the club may view trading Hamels as an opportunity to receive a top prospect in return. Philadelphia recently noted it would not mind having Hamels starting in 2015, however the organization has been actively shopping him, with the Dodgers, Padres, and Red Sox all interested. Boston does not want to part with top prospect Blake Swihart, and San Diego may be seeking another top arm after adding James Shields.
While several clubs remain interested, Hamels still has four years (worth $96 million) left on his contract. The deal also includes a fifth option year, and while it includes a limited no-trade clause, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro is "happy to move forward with him."
Lee, Papelbon, and Hamels all want to play for winning teams, and all three could be members of a different club before opening day.