Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors: Latest Updates and Reaction

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors: Latest Updates and Reaction

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    The Philadelphia Phillies are on their last leg, and every other team in the MLB knows it.

    Right now, this is a team running low on options, morale and hope, kind of like the analogy of a man stranded in the desert with just a drop of water left in the canteen. He knows that's his only hope, and the Phillies know that the returns of Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard could give them a spark.

    But make no doubt about it, the vultures are circling. If the Phillies were to mail it in on the 2012 season and become sellers, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. would be a popular man.

    Contenders would drool over the opportunity to add legitimate difference-makers like Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence or Shane Victorino. They're all the type of players that evolve a team from World Series "contender" to "favorite." 

    The Phillies have their motives as well. Those players would each bring in a pretty piece in a trade, and the Phillies farm system is lacking in quality positional prospects. They've had their eyes on third basemen and outfielders for quite some time.

    So as the July 31 trade deadline comes into focus, we'll be keeping our eyes on the Phillies like a hawk, watching to see if they can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles to become buyers and make a run at the postseason or if they succumb to the circumstances and wind up selling. 

    Either way, we'll be keeping track of all of the latest rumors and deals right here and provide in-depth reaction on each.

    Stay tuned!

Phillies Trade Pence to Giants for Joseph, Schierholtz, Rosin

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    July 31—

    After watching the Phillies trade Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants are ready to strike back at their longtime rival. According to Andrew Baggarly of Comcast SportsNet (tweet below), the Giants will acquire Hunter Pence.

    In exchange for the outfielder, the Phillies will receive Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin.

     

    The deal is Joseph, Schierholtz and Single-A RHP Seth Rosin for Pence. To be announced shortly.

    — Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) July 31, 2012

     

     

    Grade: B-

    This is a solid deal for the Phillies.

    First and foremost, they're getting Pence's salary off of the books, so don't discount that aspect of the deal. Pence has also been dreadful this month so it isn't surprising that they weren't able to maximize his value.

    The center piece of the deal is going to be catcher / first baseman Tommy Joseph. One of the better catching prospects in the game, the 21-year-old Joseph will join another top catching prospect, Sebastian Valle, in the Phillies' system.

    The Phillies are also getting a Major League piece in Schierholtz. The outfielder has been very good against right-handed pitching this season and has played well in Citizens Bank Park. Schierhotlz is still very affordable through arbitration and projects to be, at the very least, a part of the Phillies' bench.

    The last piece is Rosin, a left-handed pitcher drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He has a plus fastball that he uses effectively with good control and an okay changeup, but still needs to focus on developing an off-speed pitch.

Phillies Trade Victorino to Dodgers for Lindblom, Martin

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    July 31—

    The Phillies have made their first of what is expected to be many deadline deals.

    According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (tweet below), the Phillies have traded Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and right-handed pitching prospect Ethan Martin.

     

     

    Phillies have traded Victorino to Dodgers for Lindblom and Ethan martin

    — Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) July 31, 2012

     

    Grade: B

    I like this deal for the Phillies.

    Given their hulking payroll, the front office had their hands tied behind their back with Victorino. He wanted a multi-year deal and the club just couldn't afford to give him one. Getting two pitchers with upside for a rental player is a bargain.

    Lindblom, 25, is going to step right into the Phillies' bullpen. He's a power pitcher having success as a late-inning reliever, something that the Phillies desperately need right now. He won't be eligible for arbitration for a couple of seasons and the Phillies have plenty of control.

    The gem of the trade could be pitching prospect Martin, however. Just 23-years-old, poor control has divided scouts about where his future lies—in the starting rotation or the bullpen. But the stuff is there. Martin has two plus pitches, a fastball and a curve, and his changeup has potential.

    Coming into the season, Baseball America didn't rank him amongst the Dodgers' top 10. This comes after ranking him ninth in 2011 and fourth in 2010.

    MLB.com, on the other hand, ranked him as the Dodgers' seventh best prospect this season, showing just how divided scouts are.

    Martin has pitched as both a starter and a reliever int he Dodgers' system, but given the Phillies' plethora of young relievers already in the upper levels of the system (Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Lisalverto Bonilla), I expect them to give him plenty of looks as a starter.

Dodgers Talking Pence, Victorino

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    July 30—

    Apparently, a new ownership group is doing wonders for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    After acquiring Hanely Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins, the Dodgers are still looking to add offensive pieces, particularly a first baseman and outfielders. The Phillies have the latter half covered.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Dodgers have asked the Phillies about Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino.

    The Dodgers still looking for offense, have been talking to the Phillies about their outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino.

    Will the Dodgers and Phillies make a deal?

    It could happen.

    If I had to handicap the odds a bit, Victorino is probably the more likely of the two. The Phillies will want a nice piece back for Pence and the Dodgers are more willing to absorb salary. One name that's been brandied about is right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom.

    The Phillies would rather have top prospects for Pence. Two to keep an eye on in that regard are Zach Lee and Allen Webster.

    Of course, the Dodgers could also be talking up their interest in Pence to make him more expensive for the rival San Francisco Giants, who are also known to have interest.

Orioles Front-Runners for Blanton?

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    July 30—

    It seems as though every team in the MLB has been interested in starting pitching at some point over the last month or so, but the Baltimore Orioles have cast the widest and most diverse net.

    After jumping into the race for Zack Greinke but not having the quality of prospects it would take to land a guy like that, the Orioles have turned their attention to Phillies' right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton, who would come much more cheaply, according to Brittany Ghiroli, O's beat reporter for MLB.com. 

     

     

    #Phillies making it clear Blanton is there if #Orioles, the most interested team in the veteran, want him: bit.ly/Q5t5pm

    — Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) July 30, 2012

     

    Blanton to the O's?

    Seems like a good fit.

    The Orioles have been searching long and hard for starting pitching and Blanton seems to be the guy that best fits their budget both in terms of dollars and prospects.

    The Phillies will want a quality piece to get a deal done, but the O's do have some interesting names to part with. The only untouchables in that system should be Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, so if they really want  Blanton, they'll get a deal done.

Phillies Interested in Headley, Choo

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    July 30—

    You don't often get the opportunity to see a team like the Phillies be both a buyer and a seller at the trade deadline, but that's exactly the case, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

    The duo is reporting that, along with their slew of veteran trade chips, the Phillies are also looking to add to their roster, having inquired on San Diego Padres' third baseman Chase Headley and Cleveland Indians' outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

    But club officials also are exploring deals that will add to the Phillies’ core – hence, the team’s interest in San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley and Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, according to major-league sources.

    Are these realistic targets for the Phillies?

    I'm not sure that they are.

    The Phillies' biggest problem right now is that their farm system has been thinned out by major trades over the last few systems. Most experts have their system ranked in or near the bottom five in all of baseball.

    Now that's not to say that there isn't talent in the Phillies' system, because there certainly is. However, most of that talent is in the form of raw prospects in the lowest levels of the organization.

    The Phillies' best trade chips are probably guys like Trevor May, Sebastian Valle, and Jesse Biddle. Do they really want to move those guys?

    Rosenthal and Morosi speculate that the Phillies could flip some of the prospects the Phillies will acquire at the deadline to either the Padres or Indians for Headley or Choo, respectively, but I don't see them having the quality of prospect it would take to land either.

Phillies Discussing Cliff Lee

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    July 30—

    It seems like just yesterday that the Phillies and Cliff Lee made the surprise announcement of the 2010 off-season: They had agreed to a massive contract that would bring the left-handed starter back to Philadelphia following a trade to the Seattle Mariners a year earlier.

    My how things have changed.

    Now that the Phillies have signed Cole Hamels to a big deal, they're ready to start moving some of their bigger salaries and Lee could be the first to go.

    Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies are open to the idea of trading Lee, but according to one of his sources, it is "not going to be cheap."

     

     

    Source:Cliff Lee is in play in trade talks today. Rangers obviously the most logical landing spot, with 3B Mike Olt as possible centerpiece.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 30, 2012

     

    Would the Phillies trade Lee?

    It seemed like a distant possibility just a few days ago, but it's getting closer. 

    The Phillies know that, with a rotation that includes a healthy Roy Halladay, Hamels, and Vance Worley, they can compete in 2013. The state of their offense is much more questionable. Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and Juan Pierre will all be free agents. That's three holes to fill.

    Realistically, they could fill at least two of those holes with one trade. 

    The Rangers want an ace bad. They're comfortable with Lee. The Phillies need a third baseman bad. They like Mike Olt.

    That's the base of a trade. The Phillies will also have interest in several other top prospects, including left-handed pitcher Martin Perez and outfielder Leonys Martin.

Phillies Could Be Market's Biggest Sellers

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    July 29—

    After being swept right out of contention by the rival Atlanta Braves this weekend, it looks as though the Phillies are finally committed to becoming sellers at the trade deadline, and ESPN's Buster Olney believes that they could be the market's busiest seller.

     

     

    Team that has a chance to be the most active seller in next two days: The Phillies. They've prepared a lot of groundwork for possible deals.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 30, 2012

     

    Who's Going?

    Well, that depends on what you feel is "a lot of groundwork."

    The Phillies will most likely move their handful of soon-to-be free agents with ease. That group includes Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre, Joe Blanton, and Ty Wigginton. Placido Polanco could join that mix when he's activated from the disabled list in August.

    But in true Philly fashion, be on the lookout for bigger names. Two guys that could be involved in trades and have been involved in heavy speculation are Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence—a pair of names that would bring the Phillies big salary relief and big returns in prospects.

    As always, you will just have to stay tuned to see what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has in store. You just never know with this man.

Phillies a Darkhorse for Headley?

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    July 28—

    The San Diego Padres have arguably the best trade chip available this summer in third baseman Chase Headley and the Phillies could obviously use an upgrade at third base.

    In his latest column for ESPN Insiders, Buster Olney suggests that the Phillies' need for a future third baseman is so great that they could stay players in that market regardless of what happens at the trade deadline. (h/t: MLB Trade Rumors.)

    The Orioles and Phillies are two teams to watch in the race for Chase Headley. Both clubs are seeking long-term third base solutions.

    Headley to the Phillies?

    I'm not buying.

    The Padres are expecting a huge return in any deal for Headley, and I just don't see the Phillies having the caliber of prospects it would take to complete a trade.

    The Phillies' farm system has undoubtedly been thinned about by big trades in recent seasons, and any deal for Headley would certainly start with one or more of Domonic Brown, Trevor May, and Jesse Biddle.

    You would assume that Brown and May are big parts of the Phillies' future, and Biddle is a local product. Even if the Phillies parted with, for argument's sake, May, do they have the prospects to build a deal around him to compete with teams like the Baltimore Orioles (who could realistically dangle a guy like Manny Machado) or the Oakland Athletics?

    I'm not sold.

    One way that the Phillies' could boost their chances is by trading one of their other chips at the deadline, like Hunter Pence, Cliff Lee, Shane Victorino, etc., and flip some or all of the prospects acquired in a deal to San Diego.

    This one seems like a very, very long shot, however.

Giants Would Pursue Pence

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    July 27

    The Phillies have a pair of not-so-well-kept secrets. The first is that they don't have much money after re-signing Cole Hamels. The second is that they'd like to move Hunter Pence to create some flexibility in the payroll.

    According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the San Francisco Giants are one team that would be interested in Pence should the Phillies officially make him available.

     

     

    If #Phillies decide to make Hunter Pence available, #SFGiants expected to make a push. They want a RH-hitting OF bat.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 27, 2012

     

    Pence to the Giants?

    Sure sounds like a good fit.

    The Giants' have been looking for a decent corner outfielder for what feels like a couple of seasons now, especially after Carlos Beltran bolted in free agency.

    Pence is a guy that would certainly bolster their lineup, but more importantly, is under team control for next season.

    As far as prospects who could be of some interest to the Phillies goes, here are a couple of names to consider: Outfielder Gary Brown, first baseman / catcher Tommy Joseph, shortstop Joe Panik, and outfielder Francisco Peguero,

Phillies Won't Move Lee at Deadline

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    July 27—

    Since this should come as a surprise to no one, I'll keep this update on the status of Cliff Lee short and sweet.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Phillies do not plan to make Lee available at the trade deadline.

    The Phillies plan to keep Cliff Lee, and won't trade him before the Tuesday trade deadline, sources say.

    Should the Phillies trade Lee?

    No.

    Lee has been a popular name amongst Phillies' fans these last few weeks, and especially now after the club has re-signed Cole Hamels, in regards to trade rumors, but Heyman's latest report only confirms the inevitable: Not happening. 

    The Phillies would be hard-pressed to find a suitor for Lee's mammoth contract not amongst the 21 teams that he can block trades to.

    Regardless of that, and anyone who still thinks that wins and ERA are relevant statistics will probably disagree, Lee has been one of the Phillies' best pitchers this season. Has he lived up to the massive contract and level of expectations? No.

    But that's not a reason to trade him either, and the Phillies realize this. Their best chance to win is a three-headed monster: Lee, Hamels, and Roy Halladay.

Phillies Still Discussing Victorino with Several Teams

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    July 26—

    Well, that sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers certainly made things interesting for the Phillies, who find themselves believing as though they can make a run at the postseason with a healthy roster, and with the way they're playing, it's hard to blame them.

    Their next series against the Atlanta Braves could determine the future. If they win that series, they'll be sitting pretty to square off with the Washington Nationals having gained ground. If they lose that series, they're probably effectively out of the playoff hunt.

    So the trade deadline could really still go either way for the Phillies, who will definitely still be fielding calls. Jayson Stark of ESPN has the latest on the Phillies, and in particular, Shane Victorino.

    The Phillies continue to talk to a bunch of teams about Shane Victorino, although their recent hot streak has left them more up in the air than ever about whether to trade a core player such as Victorino, whom they can't easily replace. Their asking price has been a young, but proven, setup reliever, plus a young outfielder or third baseman. But to get Victorino moved, said an official of one club, they're going to have to cut that price in half. Other teams expect them to narrow their focus eventually just to young relievers. Among the names we hear they've asked about: Pittsburgh's Brad Lincoln, Tampa Bay's Wade Davis, Cleveland's Vinny Rottino and Cincinnati's Logan Ondrusek.

    What's the deal with Victorino?

    It's now clear that the Phillies still have at least mild interest in moving Victorino, and personally, I'm of the belief that they will.

    The front office knows that, as of right now, the Phillies just can't win with their current bullpen. With Antonio Bastardo's struggles, Jonathan Papelbon is the only legitimate, shutdown arm right now, and good luck contending like that.

    As Stark mentions in his Rumblings, if the Phillies are able to land a good set-up man for salary relief and Victorino, I think they'll do it. Given the way Victorino is playing right now, the drop-off between he and Domonic Brown, offensively, is minimal, if there is any at all.

    Wade Davis makes a ton of sense for the Phillies coming out of the American League East. That's one I would keep an eye on.

    Defensively, well, that's a different story.

    *Also, I'm about 99.99% sure that the Cleveland pitcher Jayson Stark is referring to is Vinnie Pestano, not Vinny Rottino of the New York Mets.

Yankees Interested in Wigginton

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    July 25—

    Alex Rodriguez's broken hand is going to force the New York Yankees into exploring all of their options at third base, and they're covering all the bases.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Yankees have already called the Phillies to ask about Ty Wigginton.

    The Yankees are looking around for a third baseman who could share the position with Eric Chavez while Alex Rodriguez is out with a broken hand, and have made some inquiries about part-time type players, including the Phillies' Ty Wigginton.

    Wigginton a fit for the Yanks?

    This seems like a no-brainer for the Phillies, but in that same piece, Heyman goes on to say that the Phillies have already turned the Yankees down at least once.

    The Phillies are concerned about the health of Placido Polanco and wary of trading Wigginton. My take? That shouldn't stop them. Wigginton shouldn't be playing third base anyway.

    With Mike Fontenot, Pete Orr, and Michael Martinez all in the organization, Wigginton is highly replaceable right now.

Victorino or Pence to the Dodgers?

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    July 25—

    Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers won't be getting Cole Hamels, but they could still end up with a member of the Phillies' roster by the end of this month.

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Dodgers have had conversations with the Phillies about outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino.

     

     

    Source: #Dodgers deal for Victorino or Pence possible even if team gets Dempster along with H. Ramirez. LA has been in talks with #Phillies.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2012

     

    Pence or Victorino to the Dodgers?

    I could definitely see the Dodgers having serious interest in both Pence and Victorino. The biggest question is whether or not they have the prospects to get a deal done. That's why I think that Victorino is a more likely target than Pence. 

    While the Phillies would almost certainly ask for pitcher Zach Lee in either deal (and I'm not sure the Dodgers would part with him for Victorino), they likely don't have a package of prospects that would satisfy the Phillies in return for Pence.

    Of course, absorbing all of Pence's salary may change the Phillies' tune.

Athletics Have Considered Aquiring Rollins

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    July 25—

    Update 1:19pm: And, not so fast. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Jimmy Rollins is not currently in the Oakland Athletics' plans. Stay tuned as these conflicting reports sort themselves out.

    Earlier: Now that the Phillies have re-signed Cole Hamels, the flood gates have opened. The Phillies have other pieces to move at the trade deadline and Jimmy Rollins may be among them.

    Danny Knobler of CBS Sports is reporting that the surprising Oakland Athletics have at least considered bringing the Oakland-area native Rollins into the fold.

    The A's are still looking to add, and they do have backup plans. They've been scouting Stephen Drew, have had interest in Yunel Escobar, and have even kicked around the possibility of trying to bring hometown kid Jimmy Rollins back to Oakland.

    Is Rollins a fit for the A's?

    In my personal opinion, this is one of the best fits for both clubs.

    This is a fringe season for the A's, who aren't sure if they're legitimate contenders just yet, but are hanging tough with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and looking to add.

    Their biggest need is a quality shortstop, and because the Arizona Diamondbacks aren't likely to move Stephen Drew now that they've designated Ryan Roberts for assignment (and subsequently dealt him to the Tampa Bay Rays), Rollins may be the best fit.

    The A's won't part with top prospects, but they could do something that the Phillies would like: Absorb Rollins' salary.

    The other team that had been linked to Rollins—the Los Angeles Dodgers—acquired Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez last night, so they may be out of the picture.

    As ironic as it would be, the A's have a plethora of outfielders and could part with one in a trade. Perhaps they'd agree to part with former Phillies' prospect Michael Taylor? But that's just speculation on my behalf.

Hamels Signs Extension; off the Market

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    July 25—

    The Cole Hamels saga has come to an end in a way that most people hoped it would: The start left-handed pitcher has agreed to a contract extension with the Phillies.

    The agreement, which was reported by several outlets, including FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, ESPN's Buster Olney, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today, is for six years and $144 million—an average annual value of $24 million.

    It is the second richest contract for a starting pitcher in history, trailing only CC Sabathia's deal with the New York Yankees.

     

    The Cole Hamels agreement with the Phillies is for a little more than $140 million, over six years, pending a physical.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 25, 2012

     

     

    What's it mean?

    For starters, it means that Hamels is a rich man.

    What's it mean for the Phillies? Well, that's a cloudy picture. there is no doubt that this club is feeling a little energized following their recent come from behind wins against the Milwaukee Brewers, and they've climbed to within 9.5 games of a Wild Card spot.

    Whether or not that turns them into buyers is something that I seriously doubt. They'll still field offers on players like Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, and their cast of soon-to-be free agents.

    One player that won't be going anywhere is the future ace of this staff: Hamels.

Phillies "Eager" to Move Pence

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    July 24—

    Now just a week away from the July 31 trade deadline, the Phillies' game plan seems to change by the minute. After holding steady for the last couple of weeks and shrugging off rumors of a big fire sale, they've decided to dangle one of their biggest trade chips: Hunter Pence.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Phillies are "eager" to move Pence off of their books. Here's the details:

    The Phillies continue to signal to clubs that they are eager to move right fielder Hunter Pence, who could earn $13 million to $14 million next season in his final year of arbitration.

    Would the Phillies move Pence?

    This is an interesting rumor. Over the last few weeks, the Phillies have given the indication that they would not make any changes that signaled a fire sale.

    That means that any player with an impact on their future would likely remain put. But Pence would cost the Phillies a pretty penny through arbitration next season, and with Domonic Brown waiting in the wings, they may be convinced that re-signing Shane Victorino and promoting Brown would be a more cost-efficient strategy than extending Pence's contract.

    More than likely, however, they'd only part with the right fielder for a package of top prospects. Stay tuned on this one.

Orioles Asked About Polanco

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    July 23—

    Want to be a third baseman? The Baltimore Orioles are hiring, apparently!

    Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the O's have had, at the very least, preliminary discussions about acquiring a third baseman, including the best on the market (Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres) and Placido Polanco of the Phillies.

    Perhaps the best fit for the Orioles is the 36-year-old Polanco.  A right-handed, contact hitter with a career .299 average and .344 on-base percentage who can play third or second base and hit toward the top of the order, perhaps second. He is making $6.25 million this year and has a $5.5 million option next season with a $1 million buyout. The Phillies have not officially decided to be sellers, but they appear headed in that direction.

    Is Polanco a fit for the Orioles?

    I guess.

    Truth be told, I find it hard to believe that any team has interest in giving Polanco and his .255 / .300 /.328 slash line any regular playing time, but the Orioles are desperate.

    Their third baseman have been bad at the plate this year, but they've been terrible defensively, and Polanco represents a major upgrade in that department, at least.

    The Phillies wouldn't be getting any major prospects out of the deal, but seeing as how they were able to land Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino from the Orioles for half a season of Jim Thome, they'll get something for Polanco if they go this route.

Pirates Inquired on Victorino

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    July 22—

    While it's looking more and more like Cole Hamels will still be a member of the Phillies on August 1, other members of this club, among them, Shane Victorino, will probably be less fortunate.

    The Phillies are going to look to cut some cost this summer and Victorino could be the first to go. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that you can count the Pittsburgh Pirates amongst those teams interested.

    The Pirates have also tried to pry Billy Butler from the Royals and Shane Victorino from the Phillies.

    Are the Pirates a good fit?

    This could be an interesting fit, if nothing more.

    Personally, I find it interesting that the Pirates inquired on Billy Butler, who's price is probably much higher than that of Victorino at this point and probably won't come down. He is under team control through the next three seasons.

    Victorino, on the other hand, is a free agent at season's end and is probably a better fit for the Pirates in their current state. But what would they be willing to part with in a trade?

    The Phillies would love to get a top 10 prospect, but several of those Bucs could be off limits. You're not getting Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, or Starling Marte.

    One player to keep an eye on could be versatile outfielder Robbie Grossman, currently with the Pirates' Double-A affiliate.

Teams Pulling out of Trade Sweeps for Hamels

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    July 20—

    Still not convinced that the Phillies are pulling within the range of actually signing Cole Hamels to a new, long-term deal? Well here's where you might want to start paying attention, because when Peter Gammons speaks, we listen.

     

     

    Three teams told me today they pulled away on the Hamels sweepstakes because they believe the Phillies will get him signed.

    — Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 20, 2012

    Will the Phillies sign Hamels long-term before the July 31 trade deadline?

    The negotiations seem to have reached a critical stage where it is almost hard to envision the sides not working out a deal before the deadline.

    As soon as the Phillies determined that they were ready to make their left-handed ace a legitimate offer, the possibility of re-signing Hamels went through the roof.

    Teams pulling out of the Hamels trade sweepstakes tells me that the deal is just about signed.

Players on the Block

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    July 20—

    The Phillies aren't quite ready to cash in on the 2012 season just yet, but if they do, Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that several big names could be on the market.

    The five players the Phillies have told teams would definitely be available if they go into closeout mode: Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick.

    Will the Phillies sell?

    No surprise here. Almost every player on that list is a guy that doesn't exactly factor into the Phillies' plans for next season.

    Victorino, Blanton, Polanco, and Kendrick are all expendable this season because they're replaceable. It's as simple as that.

    The interesting name is, of course, Rollins. Would the Phillies deal a player that they just signed to a new contract, is a clubhouse favorite, and a team leader? That's something I wonder about.

    However, if the Phillies go into sell-mode, all five of those players are guys I could see with new clubs after July 31.

Pence Drawing Interest

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    July 20th—

    The Phillies are still internally debating whether or not they'll be sellers at the trade deadline, but contending teams looking to upgrade are hoping they starting pulling some big triggers.

    One of the biggest triggers to pull could be on any prospective deal involving outfielder Hunter Pence, a player that Jayson Stark of ESPN is being told could be of interest to several clubs.

    t an executive of one team that asked about him reports: "He's attracting as much interest as anybody they have -- maybe even more than Hamels."

    Would the Phillies trade Pence?

    Personally, I struggle to envision a scenario in which this is a possibility.

    First and foremost, the Phillies are not a small market team that is deciding whether or not to go into a full-blown rebuilding mode. They're trying to determine whether or not they should cash it in on the 2012 season and prepare for 2013.

    Any player that fits into their plans for next season is going to be valuable to them, and Pence is under team control through next season. He's also one of the lineup's youngest and most productive players.

    For that reason alone, I could see teams calling, but being turned away by the Phillies' astronomical asking price.

Phillies Putting Hamels Trade Talks on Hold?

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    July 19—

    Anyone who thought that the Phillies were just bluffing with the rumor that they were ready to get Cole Hamels signed before the trade deadline (myself included) should probably start getting ready to eat their words right about now.

    With the Phillies coming off arguably their most promising road trip of the season, Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that contract discussions between the Phillies and Hamels' agent, John Boggs, have picked up in recent day, putting trade discussions on "hold." 

    Meanwhile, clubs that have been speaking with the Phillies say the team has essentially put trade talks on hold, and have been much more focused on signing the 28-year-old lefthander than on dealing him before the deadline.

    "They want to sign him, and that's their priority," said an official of one club that spoke with the Phillies' brass this week. "They're really not even entertaining (trade) offers at this point."

    Will the Phillies re-sign Hamels before the July 31 trade deadline?

    It sure looks that way.

    The Phillies have spent the last couple of days preparing to make their homegrown ace a competitive offer to keep him in Philadelphia, rumored to be at least six years and north of $130 million.

    The real question is whether or not that is enough to keep him in Philly, just three months away from becoming the off-season's top free agent, and that is a question that only Hamels himself can answer.

    If the rumors in this slide show have taught us anything, it's that Hamels wants to be in Philly for the rest of his career. This sure seems like a great opportunity to get things done.

Rangers Scouting Lee's Start vs. Dodgers

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    July 18—

    And the plot thickens.

    We already know that the Texas Rangers, as well as several other teams around the game, has shown interest in a Phillies' left-handed starter, but not this one.

    While all of the talk leading up to the deadline has been about Cole Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly tweeted earlier today that a top Rangers' scout was in Los Angeles watching Cliff Lee's start against the Dodgers.

     

    Top Rangers scout in attendance for Phils-Dodgers (Lee vs. Kershaw) today. Interesting.

    — Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) July 18, 2012

     

    Are the Rangers scouting Lee?

    I don't think so.

    It would be kind of strange to see the Rangers rekindle interest in Lee after he spurned them following the 2010 season to sign with the Phillies. Then again, crazier things have happened and Nolan Ryan's fascination with the left-handed starter is well documented.

    With that being said, with the new collective bargaining agreement in place, teams may prefer the team control that a guy like Lee would offer, as opposed to losing prospects in a deal for Hamels with no guarantee that he'll re-sign.

    Some have speculated that the Phillies would consider dealing Lee to free up payroll for Hamels, though there has been no legitimate evidence that this is the case.

    The Rangers could also be in town to scout outfielder Shane Victorino, who would also benefit their charge towards the postseason.

Could the Angels Be a Fit for Hamels?

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    July 18—

    A look at their record and place in the standings indicates that this Phillies team should become definite sellers, but in typical Phillies' fashion, they're going to make it interesting. They've come out of the All-Star break hot, winning four of their first five games.

    Though their still well out of first place in the NL East (13 games), the Philllies have quietly picked up some ground in the Wild Card race—now 9.5 games out.

    But, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, if the Phillies were to become sellers at the trade deadline, one team that you can count on to be interested in Cole Hamels is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

    One scout went as far as to say Hamels could be landed for a package of outfielder Peter Bourjos, expendable with the emergence of Mike Trout, plus Jean Segura and John Hellweg.
    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_sports/care_philly_rGNCllC1pnEgIFxL6iC3EN#ixzz20z0GrgEN

    Are the Angels a realistic fit for Hamels?

    Sure they are.

    It wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that the Angels threw all of their eggs into a single basket this season, but with both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana on the brink of free agency at season's end, adding Hamels to their sputtering rotation would be a huge upgrade.

    One of the most interesting things about this article from Sherman is the fact that one scout was willing to do something that most don't at this time of year—name names.

    That would certainly be a package that would entice the Phillies. Though he's struggled this season, Peter Bourjos is a guy that could step right into center field. Prior to the 2010 season (and Bourjos' MLB debut), Baseball America named him the second best prospect in the Angels' system. Mike Trout was number three.

    Fast-forward to Baseball America's organizational rankings for this season, and both Jean Segura (2nd) and John Hellweg (4th) appear on the list. Both are currently playing with the Angels' Double-A club.

    If that were a deal truly on the table, it would be a hard one for the Phillies to pass up.

    But they're hoping for something different: A bidding war between the Angels and the Texas Rangers.

    Stay tuned.

Reds Seek Leadoff Hitter; Victorino, Pierre Are Possibilities

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    July 17—

    With the Phillies all but dead in the water in regards to a potential run at the postseason, the vultures are starting to circle.

    One of those vultures happens to be the Cincinnati Reds, currently in first place in the NL Central. According to a recent report from Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Reds are "desperately" seeking a lead-off hitter, and Phillies' outfielders Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre are possibilities.

    The Reds badly need a leadoff hitter, and that's what they're looking for.

    Two names that have been discussed: Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre of the Phillies.

    Will Victorino or Pierre be wearing a different shade of red come July 31?

    Pure speculation on my behalf, but I actually think that there is a pretty good chance that Pierre winds up playing for the Reds.

    While Victorino would probably be the better fit, there will be more competition for him and the Reds taxed their farm system last winter when they swung a deal for Mat Latos.

    Pierre would come cheap and has ties to Reds' manager Dusty Baker, who managed the speedy left fielder when both were members of the Chicago Cubs.

Phillies Ready to Offer Hamels $120 Million?

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    July 16—

    The majority of any speculation on Cole Hamels' future up to this point has centered around the possibility that the Phillies may be backed into trading their homegrown ace before the July 31 trade deadline, but it sure doesn't look like the Phillies are ready to move on.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Phillies are prepared to offer the prospective free agent left-handed starter a mammoth deal—$120 million. The length of the potential offer was not discussed.

    The Phillies are said to be planning to offer at least $120 million to star lefthander Cole Hamels in an effort to keep him in Philadelphia and prevent him from becoming a free agent, according to sources.

    120 million reasons to stay in Philadelphia or a negotiating ploy?

    The chatter up to this point has been consistent: Hamels wants to stay with the Phillies, but also wants to explore his value on the free agent market. Any player that could headline a class of free agents would.

    The Phillies obviously want to keep Hamels and it is plausible that they could even trade him at the deadline and pursue him aggressively in free agency.

    But could this just be a negotiating ploy by Ruben Amaro Jr. and company?

    This is complete speculation on my behalf, but if I were a front office executive for any contending team interested in Hamels' services—and there are a lot of them—and I saw that the Phillies were preparing to offer him a mammoth deal, I'd want to step in quickly.

    Make no bones about it: Half a season of Cole Hamels could turn a pretender into a contender and a contender into a legitimate World Series favorite.

    Are the Phillies just exploiting that with this rumor of a huge offer?

Yankees Have Talked to Phillies About Victorino; Will Monitor Hamels

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    July 16—

    The trade deadline just wouldn't be the same without the New York Yankees involved in their fair share of rumors, and here they come.

    Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Yankees have interest in both Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels, though they are more likely to acquire an outfielder than a starting pitcher.

    [The Yankees] talked to the Phillies about Shane Victorino and the Diamondbacks about Justin Upton, but Upton is a major long shot for them and right now they see the price tag as too high on either. Victorino may be slightly more realistic eventually, though.

    ...

    Yankees people suggest they aren't deeply involved in the top starter market and don't expect to be but rather only plan to monitor Cole Hamels and perhaps Matt Garza (they don't see Zack Greinke as a fit for the Bronx).

    Are the Yankees a good fit for Victorino or Hamels?

    First and foremost, it sure doesn't sound like they'll actually have much interest in Hamels, and that market is about to expand even further with Zack Grienke's last few outings.

    Victorino could be a fit for the Yankees, who had played most of the season without Brett Gardner. While Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have played admirably, there's no doubt that Victorino would make that already explosive lineup even better.

    The real question is whether or not the Phillies' asking price will come down. Eventually, that might be the case, but they also know that Victorino is one of the better position players available this summer, so it won't come down much.

Hamels to the Dodgers? Not so Fast

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    July 15—

    Ever since their new ownership group took over a couple of months ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been linked to heavy speculation about interest in California native Cole Hamels, not only after the season, but at the trade deadline as well.

    Well I'm sure he didn't mean to, but Danny Knobler threw a whole lot of cold water on Dodgers fans when he reported earlier this afternoon that the Phillies may not like the prospects that the Dodgers have to offer in a trade.

    Yes, they're interested, but they appear to be something of a longshot to make a deal with the Phillies. The Dodgers have spoken to the Phillies about Hamels, sources said Sunday, but the Phillies aren't thrilled with the players the Dodgers could offer in return.

    Can the Dodgers land Hamels in a trade?

    There's no doubt that there are teams in a better position to land Hamels than the Dodgers, especially when you consider the fact that the Phillies don't have to move him.

    With the speculation that the Texas Rangers, who have at least three top prospects to build a deal around in Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and Leonys Martin, are the favorites to land Hamels, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Phillies aren't overly interested in Dodgers' prospects.

    Their new ownership has the money, but not the talent.

Phillies Scouting Reds; Dodgers Like Rollins?

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    July 15—

    The July 31 trade deadline is 17 days away and the Phillies are 14 games out of first place in the NL East. For a team that has yet to sweep a single opponent in a three-game set this season, climbing out of the cellar and into contention in two weeks time seems impossible.

    So naturally, the Phillies have been identified as "sellers" this season and teams are going to start calling about various players.

    The following tweet from Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia is interesting in a number of ways.

     

    Scouts from Dodgers, Angels, Rangers in Den to see Hamels, says Tracy Ringolsby. LAD could look at Rollins, too. Phils have scout in Cincy

    — Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) July 15, 2012

     

    Would the Phillies move Jimmy Rollins?

    The first half of that tweet was previously reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and detailed on a previous slide.  

    The last half of that tweet is interesting. It would certainly make sense for the Los Angeles Dodgers to inquire on Rollins. Their incumbent shortstop, Dee Gordon, has not lived up to his top prospect status, posting an OPS of just .562.

    Rollins would prove to be an upgrade and the Dodgers, under their new ownership group, are one of the few teams that could stand to take on Rollins' contract. Would they make the move knowing that Gordon would be either forced to play second base or saddled with a bench role for the next few seasons? Who knows.

    The Phillies scouting of the Cincinnati Reds is a bit less interesting, but interesting nonetheless. Buster Olney of ESPN had reported last week that the Reds could have interest in Juan Pierre, so scouting the Reds' system is likely due diligence on the Phillies' behalf.

Dodgers, Rangers Scouting Hamels

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    July 15—

    With the July 31 trade deadline about two weeks away, the realization is settling in amongst Phillies' fans that Cole Hamels could be making his last few starts in a Phillies' uniform.

    Hamels will be one of the biggest trade targets of the summer, and while there are rumors that the Phillies are prepared to offer him a huge deal to keep him in Philadelphia for a long time, that won't stop teams from scouting him.

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers are among several teams scouting Hamels' start against the Colorado Rockies.

     

     

    #Dodgers, #Rangers among teams scouting #Phillies' Hamels today.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 15, 2012

     

    Update 2:21pm: Rosenthal adds that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will also be scouting Hamels' start in Colorado.

     

    What does this mean?

    There will be a slew of teams scouting Hamels heavily over the next two weeks. Any team that is realistically still in the hunt for a postseason berth leading up to the deadline could express interest in Hamels.

    This is pure speculation, but any team that is ready to part with top prospects, from the usual suspects like the Rangers to the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates, could show interest in the lefty ace.

Phillies Are "Top Priority;" Will Have Chance to Match Any Offer in Free Agency

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    July 9—

    As the Phillies begin to determine whether or not they'll move Cole Hamels before the trade, the left-handed starter is doing everything within his ability to make sure that they feel comfortable making a decision.

    After telling CSN Philly that he would entertain re-signing with the Phillies after the season even if he were traded yesterday, he met with members of the media today to discuss various topics. Among those media members was Ryan Lawerence of the Delaware County Times, who passed along this nugget:

     

    Biggest thing Hamels said about contract: if he hits free agency, Phillies will always be top priority, have last chance to match an offer.

    — Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) July 9, 2012

     

    Is trading Hamels this season and re-signing him in the winter becoming the most likely scenario?

    It sure sounds like it.

    If Hamels truly wants to be in Philadelphia long term, he'll realize that the biggest opportunity to bolster the club's future would be through a trade of himself. The Texas Rangers are known to have interest and could offer the Phillies, at the very least, one top prospect.

    I'm sure Hamels knows this. When you paint the bigger picture, the difference between re-signing right now and after the World Series is almost non-existent.

Rangers Prefer Hamels to Greinke

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    July 9—

    As the Phillies begin to realize the fact that the 2012 season is going to be a lost one, speculation is growing that they're ready to start fielding offers for Cole Hamels and that the Texas Rangers could be the favorites to land his services.

    Now there's good news for the Phillies. Contending teams will be looking long and hard at two starting pitchers over the next couple of weeks: Hamels and Milwaukee Brewers' ace Zack Greinke.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Rangers prefer Hamels.

    Though the Rangers are scouting Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke, their preference would be to trade for Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, sources say.

    While the Rangers are deep in starting pitchers, a number of their starters dealt with physical issues in the first half, and none possesses the postseason credentials of Hamels, who was the MVP of the 2008 World Series.

    Why do the Rangers prefer Hamels over Greinke?

    Realistically, it's probably the experience factor, but Greinke has a well documented history of personal issues as well.

    And that's not a knock against Greinke by any means. The man is arguably the best starting pitcher in the National League through the first half of the season, but he prefers to play in a smaller market, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area is no small market.

    Hamels, on the other hand, has spent his entire big league career playing in Philadelphia, and we all know how that market works. He's been to the World Series twice and won the Fall Classic's MVP Award in 2008.

    If it comes down to pushing a team over the hump, I'd take Hamels over Greinke too.

If Phillies Trade Hamels, Rangers Will Be the Favorite

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    July 9—

    It may be the most perfect match for a deal this off-season. The Phillies want big-league ready prospects. The Texas Rangers want a front-line starting pitcher to pair with phenom Yu Darvish to make a deep postseason run.

    Well ESPN's Buster Olney continues to report that if the Phillies ever work up the nerve to deal their homegrown lefty, the Rangers will be the favorites to land him, at least in the eyes of executives around the game.

     

    Talked to more officials today who believe that if the Phillies trade Cole Hamels, the favorite will be the Rangers.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 9, 2012

     

    Will the Phillies deal Hamels to the Rangers?

    The momentum is certainly growing in that direction.

    The Rangers are certainly in the best position of any contending team. They want to pair Darvish with another formidable starter and get over that hump to capture their first World Series title. Hamels would certainly help.

    They have an incredibly deep farm system and are one of the few teams that could afford to part with a top prospect in a guy like Mike Olt or Leonys Martin, or even both.

    It's not surprising to see speculation on a deal between these two teams growing.

Phillies Want "Big League Ready" Prospects for Hamels

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    July 8—

    If you feel the need to slap yourself in the forehead and let out an audible, "Duh," after this, I'll understand, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports has confirmed that the Phillies will be looking for prospects that are close to the MLB level in exchange for left-handed starting pitcher Cole Hamels.

    "The Phillies have identified about four teams that would be a fit for Hamels, and are telling teams that they want players who are close to being big-league ready."

    Does that narrow down the field?

    Well, yes and no.

    We already know that the Phillies will focus any deal around third basemen and outfielders, so assuming that they're only interested in near-big league ready third basemen and outfielders, we can start to bring some of the potential clubs into focus.

    This is just speculation on my behalf, but when the Phillies say that they have "identified about four teams that would be a fit for Hamels," they're talking about legitimate contenders—a team that has a real shot at the World Series. They want to do right by Hamels so that there are no hard feelings when they pursue him this winter.

    Bringing all of the rumors into focus, the clear front-runner is the Texas Rangers. The Phillies would love to have Mike Olt, but could also focus on other players in the Rangers' deep system.

    Another team to focus on could be the Boston Red Sox. The Phillies may be interested in outfielders like Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr.

    Of course, that's just speculation. The Phillies haven't had any substantial talks with clubs yet.

Hamels Would Entertain Re-Signing with the Phillies If Traded, Plus More

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    July 8—

    And the plot thickens.

    Leslie Gudel of CSN Philly posted an excellent interview with Cole Hamels today and tackled some of the questions that the fan base is dying to hear. Among them, whether or not Hamels would entertain the idea of re-signing with the Phillies if they were to trade him and if his preference was to remain in Philadelphia.

    The answers are "yes" and "yes."

    When asked if there was a scenario in which Hamels was traded at the deadline and re-signed with the Phillies in the off-season, the left-handed starter said:


    "Of course! That’s something I would never doubt, because of the situation [with the team struggling] and us obviously not being at the front of the pack. I can always leave and come back. When a team gets rid of you, I don’t think anybody looks at it as a slap in the face. I know Cliff didn’t. He pretty much showed the prime example of getting traded off before a [full] season and then coming back. I think that’s always a great possibility."

    Hamels also downplayed the idea that if a team were to acquire him at the deadline, he'd be willing to sign a contract extension.

    "I think if you wait that long, then you kind of have to explore. That wouldn’t be the smartest thing in baseball, to go so far and then all of a sudden, at the last minute, you crumble. It's an experience on it’s own. Not everybody gets to experience free agency and if you have an option to do it, why not do it?"

    Finally, Hamels shot down one of the season's biggest and most constant rumors: Whether or not he was overly interested in playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. When asked if he preferred to play for the Phillies or Dodgers, Hamels answered:

    "That’s a tough question, because I have a lot of more positive influences here, and just with everything we have, with our foundation needs and how well we’ve been able to do in the community and how much the community has supported us.  I think that’s a huge factor. 

    "We obviously live here, so I think that makes it a lot easier with kids and once they start getting into school, the choices you have to make there… I don’t think you can beat this organization just in the way they treat their players and families. It’s outstanding.  So, ultimately that’s probably the highest positive you could ever have is what your value is to a team… what you know versus the unknown. And when things are good, you don’t ever leave when things are good."

    So what's the deal with Cole Hamels? Will he stay or will he go?

    As I wrote last week and Hamels all but confirmed today, the answer could realistically be "both." Given the Phillies' situation in the standings, it would be almost foolish for them to sign Hamels now. Ditto for the pitcher himself. 

    Instead, if being in Philadelphia is truly what Hamels desires, he'll realize that 2012 is a lost season for the Phillies, except a trade to a team that has some of the big league prospects the Phillies are looking for, and give them a chance to woo him in free agency.

    Money isn't an issue for the Phillies in regards to Hamels. It's been the years and timing. Now, we may have a resolution.

     

Victorino a Late Scratch on Sunday Afternoon

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    July 8—

    Let the trade speculation begin in earnest.

    When Phillies' skipper Charlie Manuel first wrote out his lineup for Sunday afternoon's lineup, Shane Victorino's name was on it and he was playing center field. Now he's not.

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that Victorino was a late scratch for today's game against the Atlanta Braves, leading some to believe that a trade was possible. But Heyman also reports that the move was a "manager's decision."

    Shane Victorino's surprise late benching Sunday was said not to have anything to do with a potential trade and instead been the result of a "manager's decision."

    In any case, Victorino appears to be a short-timer in Philly. If he isn't traded before the July 31 trade deadline, he will almost assuredly sign elsewhere.

    Are the Phillies close to dealing Victorino?

    There's no legitimate proof that they are, but the late scratch is interesting. With the Phillies now 14 games out of first place, it's time for the club to consider selling off some of its potential free agents, and a lot of people believe Victorino will be the first to go.

    He may not have been traded before today's game, but the move, even if it was a "manager's decision," is interesting nonetheless.

    It is worth noting that Victorino has struggled mightily against right-handed pitching this season and he was replaced by the left-handed hitting Jason Pridie, who will square off with Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens.

Indians, Pirates Target Shane Victorino

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    July 7—

    Shane Victorino is set to become one of the best position players on the trade market this summer, so you would expect him to draw plenty of interest.

    While the usual suspects are sure to get involved, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that two unlikely contenders could get involved in the Victorino sweepstake as well: The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates.

    [Shane] Victorino could be a fit for the Pirates or Indians as they aggressively pursue hitters. (h/t: MLB Trade Rumors)

    Will the Phillies deal Victorino, and where?

    At this point in the season, it's almost hard to imagine the Phillies not dealing Victorino, whether they remain in contention or not.

    It's very unlikely that the center fielder will come to terms on a new deal that will work for both sides, so a trade now may be the best option.

    Both the Indians and Pirates have prospects to deal and seem like a logical destination. The Indians have been looking for a right-handed bat since the off-season and the Pirates will take some offense from wherever they can get it.

Odds of Phillies Landing Olt in Hamels Trade "Slim"

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    July 7—

    As the Phillies continue to fall further out of contention and the Texas Rangers continue to scout Cole Hamels' starts, the growing speculation around the game is that the clubs could have a possible deal centered around third base prospect Mike Olt in the near future.

    Not so fast.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Phillies aren't the only team in the MLB that wants to get their hands on Olt, and the Rangers aren't overly interested in trading him.

    Rival teams covet Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt and the Phillies would likely target him in any talks for Cole Hamels, but the odds of Philly landing him are slim.  Texas would view Hamels as a rental and are looking at Olt at first base and right field, in addition to third.  His bat will be needed next season if they lose (Josh) Hamilton or Mike Napoli to free agency. (h/t: MLB Trade Rumors).

    Would the Rangers deal Olt for Hamels?

    I still think they would.

    Though the Rangers could lose Josh Hamilton at season's end, the odds that he stays in Texas are much higher. With Mitch Moreland returning to health and Adrian Beltre entrenched at third base, I think the Rangers would part with Olt in a deal for Hamels.

Pierre Drawing Interest from Reds, Others

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    July 7—

    With the Phillies drifting further and further from postseason contention by the day, it's about that time of the season where you will see any and every player with any trace amount of value connected to trade rumors.

    Well, you can count Juan Pierre in.

    Pierre was easily general manager Ruben Amaro's Jr.'s best signing of the off-season, as he inked the MLB veteran to a minor league deal and is reaping the rewards. Pierre has batted above .300 for the majority of the season and has played regularly in left field.

    Now, ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting, via Twitter, that several teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, have showed interest in acquiring the left-handed slap hitter.

     

    As the Phillies prepare for possible sell-off, Juan Pierre drawing interest, including from the Cincinnati Reds.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 7, 2012

     

    What can the Phillies expect in a deal for Pierre?

    The short answer is not much.

    Pierre puts the Phillies in a unique situation. Given the peripherals, he should be extremely valuable to a contending club. He only has half a season remaining on his contract and is extremely affordable until that half a season expires.

    Of course, the Phillies may have shot themselves in the foot when they signed Pierre to a minor league deal over the winter. That makes it seem as though there weren't any clubs interest in giving him a guaranteed contract.

    There isn't much value in that. Expect a player to be named later or cash considerations in any deal.

Phillies Will Make One Last Attempt to Re-Sign Hamels Long-Term

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    July 6—

    This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but on the day that they activated their former MVP and All-Star first baseman, Ryan Howard, from the disabled list, the Phillies are still talking as though they won't be sellers this season.

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Phillies will make a strong effort to sign Hamels prior to the July 31 trade deadline to keep the left-handed pitcher around long-term and avoid trading him to a contending team at the trade deadline, with the usual emphasis on the strength of starting pitching.

    "The Phillies aren't going to trade Cole Hamels before first making a run at keeping him in Philadelphia long-term. While they have recently broached Hamels' name in trade talks with other teams, as was reported here first, their clear preference is to keep him, not trade him."

    Will the Phillies sign Hamels long-term before July 31?

    Don't hold your breath.

    While Heyman reports that the Phillies will make an effort to re-sign Hamels, he also made it clear that there will be several obstacles in doing so.

     

    #phillies will try to re-sign hamels. but hurdles loom: timing, tax, '12 struggles, $, #dodgers. cbsprt.co/NJn38o

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 6, 2012

     

    At this point in time, it is far more likely that the Phillies will cash in on a weak trade market than it is that Hamels will cash in on the Phillies' love of starting pitching.

Rangers Favorite to Land Hamels?

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    July 6—

    Cole Hamels took to the mound for the final time before the 2012 All-Star Game on Thursday night and you can bet your bottom dollar that several scouts were there to see it.

    Among those scouts, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) (h/t: MLB Trade Rumors), was a contingent from the Texas Rangers, a team that Olney suggests is already the favorite to land Hamels should the Phillies become sellers.

    Why is there so much speculation about the Phillies and Rangers matching up for a trade?

    It just makes perfect sense.

    First and foremost, they are two teams going in opposite directions. The Rangers sit atop the American League West while the Phillies are floundering like fish out of water in a tough National League East.

    Though the Rangers look like they're en route to another charge towards the World Series, they'll have to fend off the hot Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the second half. Hamels can help that cause, without a doubt.

    From a Phillies' perspective, there's one name to keep an eye on: Mike Olt. He's the Rangers' second best prospect according to Baseball America's mid-season top 50, and that's only because the Rangers also boast shortstop super-prospect Jurickson Profar as well.

    Why would the Phillies be interested in Olt? That's an easy one. According to this report from Lone Star Ball, Luis Salazar, manager of the Lynchburg Hillcats, once compared him to Tampa Bay Rays' third baseman Evan Longoria.

    "He reminded me of when I saw Evan Longoria in Double-A," Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar said. "He looks just like him. He's a tremendous athlete, he can pick it at third base and he's got good power to right-center field. This kid is a major league third baseman."

"Re-Tooling, Not Re-Doing."

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    July 5—

    Anyone out there looking for the Phillies to cash in their World Series aspirations for the next couple of seasons is going to be disappointed by the following slide, and the following statement by proxy: The Phillies aren't going into a full blown "rebuilding mode."

    His statement served as more of a confirmation than anything, but Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters today, including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, that the Phillies as sellers would be "more about retooling [than it is] about redoing."

    “It’s more about retooling than it is redoing,” he said at Citi Field. “We’ve got a lot of players that are pretty damn good that I expect to be playing next year for us.”

    “We plan on being contenders in ’13, ’14, ’15 and ’16,” Amaro said. “We’re not blowing this team up. That’s not going to happen. Regardless of what happens over the next couple of weeks, we plan on being contenders for the next several years. Even if we don’t get to the finish line this year we still view ourselves as contenders after this year.”

    So what's the difference between "retooling" and "redoing?"

    In all honesty, you can never really tell what Amaro has up his sleeve, but this statement is one that people have speculated on for weeks.

    While several names currently on the Phillies' roster have been suggested as trade bait, Amaro is basically stating that any player signed through next season isn't going to be available, at least, not for cheap.

    So anyone who had Hunter Pence and Cliff Lee on their wish list better be ready to pony up. Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino are much more likely targets.

Would the Phillies Have Interest in Bourjos?

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    July 5

    There has been a lot of speculation that a team from Los Angeles could be interested in throwing huge money at Cole Hamels when he reaches free agency this winter, maybe even swing a deal with him before then, but it wasn't this one.

    While the new ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers should make them active on the trade market, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports believes that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could show interest in Hamels given Ervin Santana's struggles, and that a speedy center fielder would intrigue the Phillies.

     

    With Victorino headed for free agency, Bourjos likely would intrigue the #Phillies in any Hamels talks.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 5, 2012

     

    Would the Phillies be interested in Peter Bourjos?

    Sure they would, but I'm not sure they'd be interested in him as a center piece for any Hamels deal.

    Ruben Amaro Jr. would certainly begin any conversation with the Angels by asking for Mike Trout. After Halos' GM Jerry Dipoto was finished laughing and Amaro built up the nerve to call back, he'd certainly ask about Bourjos.

    The speedy center fielder had a great year for the Angels in 2011, but has struggled this season. The Phillies would like more of a guarantee and would certainly want Caleb Cowart as well.

    Seems like a long shot, but these are two clubs that could have mutual interest in what the other already has.

Yankees Aren't Joining the Hamels Bidding

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    July 4—

    Now that the trade deadline has rounded into focus, teams will be deciding whether or not they want to join the bidding for Cole Hamels, who should be the top trade target on the block this summer.

    According to this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney, we have our first team that refuses to meet the Phillies' asking price for their left-handed ace—the New York Yankees.

     

    Unless Philly's asking price for Cole Hamels diminished dramatically, the Yankees have no intention of joining the bidding, sources say.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 4, 2012

     

    Will the Yankees Join the Bidding for Hamels?

    It's still too soon to tell.

    It seems like every summer, the Yankees are in on every player, and they certainly need help in the starting rotation now that they are without both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.

    However, a deal between the Phillies and Yankees is unlikely. While the Yankees have the flexibility to take on Hamels' contract, they may not have the prospects the Phillies are looking for to swing a deal. Olney also reports that the Phillies will focus on third base and outfield help.

    The Yankees could get in the mix if the Phillies officially open up for business, but for right now, they're out.

Phillies Will Target Third Base, Outfield Help in Any Hamels Deal

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    July 2—

    See those two guys pictured to the left?

    That's Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino, and their impending free agency, combined with the fact the Phillies have few impact prospects ready to replace them, is why, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Phillies will target third base and outfield help in any trade for one of their aces, Cole Hamels.

     

    The Phillies' focus, in framing the possible Cole Hamels trade talks, is on acquiring third base and outfield help, sources say.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 2, 2012

     

     

    Will the Phillies target the best package, or third basemen and outfielders in particular?

    That tweet from Olney certainly makes it sound as though the Phillies will narrow down their options when it comes to trading Hamels.

    It's easy to forget that even if the Phillies become sellers this summer, they won't go into a full-blown rebuilding mode. They'll target players that can help them get back to the top of the division in 2013.

    That's why that, as July 31 comes nearer, certain teams will be more heavily speculated than others. For instance, both the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers own top third base prospects (Mike Olt and Nick Castellanos, respectively) and could use starting pitching help.

    It remains to be seen if either, or any team for that matter, has had an actual discussion about acquiring Hamels.

Phillies Shake-off Rumors, Say They Want to Keep Hamels

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    July 2—

    Despite growing speculation that the Phillies are gearing up their efforts to explore interest in left-handed co-ace Cole Hamels, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. emphatically denied that he is looking to move his team's leader in wins, according to this report from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    "A lot of these rumors are products of the timing and way we're playing," Amaro said. "This is what happens in July. You have a team that's not playing very well, and we have very good players. We are going to get these types of rumors out there. I just want to make sure people understand where we stand."
    Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/Amaro_denounces_rumors_says_Phillies_want_to_keep_Hamels.html#ixzz1zmggDtNr
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    Amaro also added this, from the same report, confirming that the Phillies still have interest in locking up Hamels long-term:

    "Our other goal, frankly, is to keep Hamels in our uniform, short term and long term."
    Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/Amaro_denounces_rumors_says_Phillies_want_to_keep_Hamels.html#ixzz1zmgtWLoy
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    Is Hamels Off the Market?

    Of course not. What else did you expect Amaro to say?

    Ever since the club avoided arbitration with Hamels over the off-season, both sides have had an open dialogue about a possible contract extension for Hamels. Now that he is just about three months away from free agency, the chances of signing a new contract are slim to none.

    As the Phillies hang on the very edge of contention, the club is certainly going to field offers for Hamels, and more likely than not, if they fall out of the race by the end of July, they're going to trade him.

    Amaro is a very crafty speaker. Be forewarned.

Rangers Scouting Hamels

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    July 1—

    The Phillies entered the 2011 regular season boasting their four aces. Now, as the trade deadline approaches on July 31, the Texas Rangers could potentially wind up with two of them.

    Though the Rangers had plenty of pitching depth coming into the season, it has been depleted by injuries and they are still in the market for top-tier starting pitching, even after signing former Phillie Roy Oswalt last month.

    According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the Rangers have scouted Hamels and may be interested in swinging a deal for the left-handed prospective free agent this summer.

     

    The Phillies and Rangers: Perfect trade partners?

    The Rangers need an elite pitcher to push them over the ALCS hump. The Phillies need third base and outfield prospects. Is this not the perfect match between trade partners?

    While there are no guarantees when it comes to the Phillies as sellers, if they were to put Hamels on the market, the Rangers seem like a great match.

    They could offer up third baseman Mike Olt for Hamels' services and add in any combination of their "toolsy" outfield prospects, perhaps even Leonys Martin, to satiate the Phillies' needs.