Jul 12, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Phillies be shopping Cole Hamels?

Rumors have been running rampant the past few weeks regarding Cole Hamels’ potential availability. However, as WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports in his latest column, the Philadelphia Phillies aren’t likely to trade the highly-touted southpaw.

On one hand,  Hamels is under contract until after the 2019 season and is the Phillies’ best, most consistent commodity. On the other, he’s expensive and would draw a sizable return. So I do see both sides clearly, yet I’m not convinced holding on to him is wise.

Philadelphia has one of the weakest farm systems in baseball, rated 25th by Baseball Prospectus. That’s not good news for any team — let alone one whom has pedestrian major-league talent.

The Phillies are in a horrible place; one where the near and distant future are bleak. There’s minimal reason for hope with the current team and mediocre minor-league talent. Despite Ruben Amaro’s delusions that his team composed of veterans way past their primes would compete, it’s time to face reality. The Philadelphia Phillies need to rebuild.

The baseball team within the City of Brotherly Love have overpriced veteran pieces they’d be willing to move, but they won’t get much back and probably would have to eat some of the contract for each. Players such as Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Burnett, Jimmy Rollins, and Marlon Byrd are more than likely available, however, it’s questionable how much other teams would be willing to give to acquire them.

Cliff Lee has been injured the majority of 2014, will be 36 come September, and is owed $25 million in 2015 — not to mention his $27.5 million team option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout. Yes, he’s good. In fact, he’s really good. But there’s a lot to think about before acquiring him, and a team willing to take on the lucrative contract should suffice for the Phillies to pull the trigger on a deal.

Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett are reaching the end of their careers, yet still are playing well. They could receive a nice package for each, but nothing game-changing. Plus, Byrd does have a partial no-trade clause, allowing him to block trades to the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays.

Papelbon, like Lee, is one of the best at what he does, despite getting up there in age. In 37 and 1/3 innings this year, the right-handed closing pitcher has compiled a stellar 1.21 ERA and 2.33 FIP. But, again, like Lee, Papelbon is grossly overpaid. He’s due $13 million in ’15 and has an attainable vesting option for ’16 which would pay him $13 million. The dollars attached to Papelbon debases his value some, and Ruben Amaro Jr. would likely have to eat a huge chunk of that.

It’s still undecided whether or not Rollins will exercise his no-trade clause, though, even if he didn’t, the return wouldn’t be great. The switch-hitter is 35 and set to make $11 million next season if he gets up to plate 41 times the rest of the year. He’ll easily obtain that pending an unforeseen injury. Nevertheless, a combination of age and a pricey contract limits his value.

So, this brings us back to the subject of the article. Cole Hamels, who’s posted a dazzling 2.93 ERA and 3.28 FIP in 107 and 1/3 innings this year, should be feverishly shopped.

Not necessarily now, but sooner than later. Amaro Jr. has waited too long to deal his players (*cough *cough Dominic Brown) when their value reached an all-time high — or had value altogether — and it’s cost his franchise. Hamels would lure impact prospects (notice the emphasis on the “S”), and supplement a feeble minor-league system. You can’t pretend any longer. The Phillies are destined for years of mediocrity if they continue down this path. Exchanging Hamels for young, talented, and controllable prospects is a good start to fix a broken organization.

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Tags: Cole Hamels Philadelphia Phillies

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