The Philadelphia Phillies are a team that is most definitely a “seller” as the 2014 MLB trade deadline approaches. After Monday night’s 7-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the Phillies are 43-56 and sit 12 games out of first place in the National League East. Despite that, Philadelphia is apparently going to hold on to what may be its most valuable trade chip.
The Phillies are reportedly telling teams that they won’t be trading Cole Hamels. The 30-year-old three-time All-Star isn’t having a great year, but left-handed starting pitchers are always in demand. Especially those who have won NLCS and World Series MVPs.
This season Hamels is 4-5 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He has made 17 starts, has thrown 114.1 innings and has struck out 115 batters while issuing 38 walks.
Hamels is due $90 million over the next four seasons and the Phillies hold a $20 million club option on him for 2019 (or a $24 million vesting option). He is also still owed the remainder of his $22.5 million salary this year. While that’s a lot of money, someone would almost certainly be willing to take Hamels if the Phillies were determined to part with him.
Instead, Philadelphia seems content to keep him around, and will not push even harder to move fellow lefty Cliff Lee. Lee is still owed about $10 million this season and is due $25 million next season. His contract also has a $27.5 million mutual option for 2016 that automatically vests if he throws 200 innings next season (it also contains a $12.5 million buyout). So Lee is guaranteed to make somewhere between $47.5 million and $62.5 million over the next two or three years.
Lee returned from the disabled list Monday night and struggled through 5.2 innings. His velocity was in the 86-89 mph range, and he was clearly dealing with rust. Lee tied a career-high by giving up 12 hits, and also surrendered six earned runs.
So far this season Lee has a 4-5 record, with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 10 starts. He is clearly not the guy he once was and at 35 he’s not likely to get better. The Phillies would likely have to eat a chunk of Lee’s salary to get a deal done, but if they aren’t going trade Hamels, they need to do what they can to ship Lee out of town.