Cole Hamels wants to pitch with Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee could be traded

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Or: Great Moments in mildly b.s. justifications for accepting a giant contract. First, Jerry Crasnick:

Then, Jon Paul Morosi:

Four general managers of other clubs told FOXSports.com Wednesday that Lee is not yet formally available, but other executives expect Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will consider offers for the left-hander leading up to next Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline.

Rival team officials believe Amaro has little choice but to at least explore the market for Lee, who has three years and $87.5 million left on his contract after this season.

Cole Hamels is no idiot. He knows, like every other player knows, that one cannot choose one’s teammates and that someone who is here today may very well be — actually, almost certainly will be — gone tomorrow.  If Hamels actually told his agent “hey, I wanna sign because Cliff Lee is there,” his agent would have smacked him over the head and told him to grow up.

There are only two relevant reasons why Cliff Lee signed with Philly: the money was where it needed to be and he likes the organization. Maybe throw in the city itself. Point is, it’s not the teammates or, more to the point, their future tenure with the team.  Saying so is a nice bit of morale boosting in the clubhouse, it may be a nice thing to say about friends on the team and it certainly gives the media an answer to the “why did you sign” question that isn’t “$144 million, dudes!”

But there’s no way that kind of thing can reasonably be a determining factor unless you assume — which you should not assume — that Cole Hamels just fell off the turnip truck and doesn’t know that anyone can be dealt at any time.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.