Michael Perez/Associated Press
Cole Hamels (left), Cliff Lee (second from left) and A.J. Burnett (right) are all on the block.
This time last year, the Philadelphia Phillies were a franchise at a crossroads, stuck standing on the fence between buyer and seller. Ultimately, they chose to stand pat rather than unload salary and bring in young talent—and then promptly lost five straight from July 31 to Aug. 4, making that decision look even worse.
Well, at 47-60 through Tuesday, there's no doubt about which bin the Phillies fall into this time around. They need to be sellers all the way, and there's enough to peddle that could help Philadelphia rebuild: left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, closer Jonathan Papelbon, outfielder Marlon Byrd, first baseman Ryan Howard, righty A.J. Burnett and setup man Antonio Bastardo.
Thing is, many of those same names could have been traded last July but weren't. Part of that is because some of the players have onerous contracts, many of which include restrictive no-trade clauses.
But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s stuck-in-the-mud approach also hasn't helped. Nor has his apparently steeper-than-Everest asking prices for the likes of Hamels, who is available, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Upon inquiring, the Dodgers were told that it would take their three top prospects—shortstop Corey Seager, outfielder Joc Pederson and 17-year-old left-hander Julio Urias—to get the former World Series MVP, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
No wonder, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes, that "The Phillies front office has been frustrated lately with its lack of success on the trade market, but it is still trying to complete at least one deal before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline."
For the sake of the Phillies' future, here's hoping the "at least" part of the above plays out and the club makes multiple deals to get a much-needed rebuilding process underway. Certainly, if Amaro doesn't find a taker for Byrd—a 36-year-old having a career year who is one of the few big bats available—he's either failing to capitalize on a no-brainer opportunity or plain asking for too much.