The Philadelphia Phillies finally embraced the reality of their situation this offseason by trading veterans like Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd. General manager Ruben Amaro still has one big chip left to play if he chooses in Cole Hamels, who isn't going to object to a potential deal.
Speaking to Bob Nightengale of USA Today on the first official day of spring training in Florida, Hamels said he understands the situation he and the Phillies are in heading into the 2015 season.
"I just want to win,'' Hamels said. "That's all. That's all any competitor wants. And I know it's not going to happen here. This isn't what I expected. It's not what the Phillies expected, either. But it's reality.''
Hamels' name has been bantered about in some trade discussion this offseason. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported on February 15 that the Boston Red Sox were one of four teams to make an offer for the left-hander:
But what we’ve been able to piece together through various sources is that the package Boston offered was heavy on the major league side, trying to avoid giving up any of their top prospects. Suffice it to say, that won’t get you Hamels. The Phillies are insistent on prospects, and if they don’t get them now they’ll wait until the trade deadline when there might be more desperation by teams seeking to win.
Nightengale's report also notes the San Diego Padres made an offer for Hamels with prospects Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges but said that "isn't enough," and the Los Angeles Dodgers "have yet to include any of their top four prospects in a proposal."
The Phillies are right to be patient with Hamels, at least if a team like Boston is making offers with current big leaguers. This is a franchise that needs to get younger assets to build for the future, not current big leaguers who will take a 70-win team to 75 wins.
In January, Amaro told Jake Kaplan of The Philadelphia Inquirer he didn't "really foresee" Hamels being traded before Opening Day.
Hamels is certainly frustrated by the situation Philadelphia is in. He arrived on the scene in 2006, as the Phillies were ascending, and led the team to a World Series in 2008. Things have gotten progressively worse each year since that title, resulting in last year's 73-89 record.
There will have to be some resolution to this fractured marriage eventually, but Amaro doesn't seem to have any sense of urgency. Hamels isn't the kind of player who will force his way out of a bad situation, so patience will be a great virtue for the 31-year-old as he begins 2015.