By Sam Bush

Tomorrow at 4 p.m. is the deadline for major league baseball trades, and while the Phillies sink further and further into the abyss on the field, their off the field possibilities are the talk of the league.

The Phillies are the team most poised to do a copycat version of the Red Sox’s mega trade of two years ago. They are shopping starters Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett, and are willing to give away first baseman Ryan Howard and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Makes sense for them. But the guy everyone wants is Cole Hamels, who by the way pitched a gem last night against the Mets, striking out eight in eight innings in a 6-0 Phils win.

The Phillies really don’t want to trade him, considering he is signed through 2018. They aren’t making him readily available. And considering they are flush with money and have a new TV deal, his $22.5 million salary is no problem.

Yet, according to one-ranking official in MLB who talked to USA Today, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels. They were told the price would be three of their top prospects – center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.

Sorry, the Dodgers said, but no interest.

The Phillies haven’t dropped their price tag, and are insisting on three top prospects and a mid-tier prospect in any deal for Hamels. Yet, since no one else has come forward, they could lower the asking price if Hamels is packaged with bad, bloated contracts like ones belonging to Howard and Papelbon, clearing more than $150 million off the books.

The Phillies, who refuse to go over the $189 million luxury tax, suddenly would have money to hit the market again this winter, sign free-agent starter Max Scherzer or Jon Lester, and even infielder Hanley Ramirez.

While the Phillies say there have been no talks involving a package deal, several executives came to the same conclusion when broached with the idea: Love it. Do it. Now.

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