By Sam Bush

I don’t want to ruin your holiday weekend, but…

The major league trading deadline is four weeks from today — July 31 — and for the second straight year the Phillies are trying to trade ace Cole Hamels because they are the worst team in baseball and do not need an ace, but other teams should.

So, what are the odds that woeful Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. can actually pull the trigger and make a trade that reaps talented prospects for the Phillies’ future?

They are conducting the world’s slowest rebuild, with only the great Jimmy Rollins plus Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo going so far, and many, many more players to trade remaining, including franchise lefthander Hamels plus slugger Ryan Howard, closer Jonathan Papelbon, aging catcher Carlos Ruiz and veteran righty Aaron Harang.

Solid exec Andy MacPhail has been imported, and while he is working only as a consultant now before transitioning to team president after the season, it’s hard to imagine another established veteran voice could hurt at this point. While high salaries and unpalatable options make some of their players on the block tricky propositions, it’s a bit of a mystery why they are still holding Hamels, an excellent pitcher who could help any number of teams.

Hamels has a list of nine teams to which he can be traded without his approval, and he helped the team by listing a nice mix of big-market teams to go with California teams (he’s a San Diego native), and according to someone familiar with the situation, he’d also accept the Red Sox and possibly a few others.

Hamels can reject any team he wants, but recent heat led him to suggest – probably falsely — that he’d consider the Blue Jays and Astros, two teams reported here and elsewhere to be clubs he wouldn’t accept (Jays) or likely wouldn’t accept (Astros). “He’s just trying to say the right thing,” says someone in the know who knows he’s already told the Phillies he’d rather not go to Toronto. And it’s hard to blame him for being “political” in the city that sometimes lacks brotherly love.

One thing that is true, he’s surely getting antsy by now. That’s nothing compared to Papelbon, who can’t wait to get to a contender, almost any contender (though the Cubs and Jays are the only ones linked at all to the accomplished reliever with an unpalatable 2016 vesting option). Harang, too, could be a useful piece for someone. “A dependable innings eater,” one scout called him.

The Phillies asked the Rangers for catching prospect Jorge Alfaroplus outfield prospect Nomar Mazara but may be willing to take one or the other as part of a bigger package.


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