Hamels is happy with his contract but wants to win and knows the Phils can’t. Phils GM Amaro thinks Hamels will fetch more in return than other GMs are willing to pay because the Phils are perceived to be desparate

By Ben Sullivan

Once again, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is out to lunch and the last person standing to know that Cole Hamels wants to be traded.

To hear the witless Amaro brief the media yesterday at the general managers’ meeting in Phoenix, everything is cool with Hamels.

“He was neutral when I talked to him,” Amaro said when asked if Hamels wants to stay in Philly. “Happy to go. I think he wants to win, but he signed his contract and he plans on honoring the contract obviously, and that’s great.”

Hamels and Ryan Howard have partial no-trade clauses. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have complete no-trade clauses. The Phillies have communicated with each of those players.

“We’ve had discussions with him,” Amaro said of Howard. “He’s aware of what the goals are. It was pretty good. It was pretty straightforward. We talked to him about what our direction is going to be and that’s really all I want to say about that.”

Most of the attention is focused on Hamels, who is at the top of his game. He is owed $96 million over the next four seasons and is an attractive alternative to teams uncomfortable about offering mega contracts to free-agent pitchers Jon Lester and Max Scherzer. But to land Hamels, teams will need to give up at least one or two blue-chip prospects.

“We’ve been doing this since probably May, working on those possible scenarios and lining up different clubs that would be good matches for us,” Amaro said. “But that can change because there are two-team deals, three-team deals, four-team deals, expanded deals. And I think that’s part of this dialogue we have, this dance, whatever you want to call it at this time.

“It’s kind of no secret that the free-agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes, I think. Particularly in our situation because it’s not a deep free-agent market, but at some point the dominoes will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us.”

But teams also like to hold onto their prospects, which makes trading Hamels difficult. The Phillies can’t trade an ace for nothing. They did that once already when they traded Cliff Lee to the Mariners.

“Those prospects are highly coveted,” Amaro said. “It seems like teams are more apt to just spend money, because it’s just money. It’s not entities that they’re giving up as far as players are concerned, or talent. That’s kind of the trend we’re in. At the same time, there’s risk with that, you’re doling out a lot of money. It’s a difficult balance. But the reality of it is, there isn’t that many elite pitchers out there. So we’ll see what happens.”

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Hamels would “love to be traded this winter.”

Hamels knows he can’t say a word.

Yet, if his world could possibly be a little more perfect, he’d love to be traded this winter.

He won’t demand a trade, or even complain, but four years ago when he signed his extension, he believed the Phillies would be a perennial power for the life of the contract.

The Phillies are certainly going to shop him. And if Amaro is realistic about it (i.e. realizes that you’re not getting four blue chip prospects for a guy owed nearly $100 million) he should be moved. Like I mentioned in the Braves post earlier this morning, if you’re going to rebuild, move your most valuable guys and get the most you can. Maybe that’s just one prospect and some role players, but clearing the salary and committing to the future requires you to part with things you love.

The proof of Nightengale’s premise, however, will come if and when Amaro can make a deal. Hamels has a pretty expansive no-trade clause — it’s thought to include 20 teams — but that shouldn’t be an impediment if Hamels truly does want to move on to a better situation.

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