Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said late last month that he was expecting left-hander Cole Hamels to still be with the team when the season begins. In the wake of James Shields’ deal with the Padres, ESPN’s Jayson Stark asked Amaro about Hamels’ status again today. His answer hasn’t changed:
“I would expect him to be in spring training with the Phillies. And I would expect him to be our Opening Day starter. I don’t know that for sure. That could change in a phone call or two, just like with anyone else. But I would expect him to be in camp.”
The Padres were linked heavily to Hamels in recent weeks, but barring something unexpected, that possibility is now likely off the board now that Shields is in the fold. Amaro said that he is still talking with several teams about Hamels, but that they “haven’t gotten to the finish line with those teams.” The substantial asking price is a big reason for that.
Stark hears that Amaro is telling teams that he needs to “win the deal” in order to trade Hamels and the Phillies are willing to pay little or none of the $96 million remaining on his contract. So not only do you have to give up a ton of talent, but you have to pay a lot of money too. Still, you can understand why the Phillies are holding firm on their asking price, as Hamels is one of the best left-handers in the game and the biggest chip in their rebuilding effort.
Amaro conceded that things could change with Hamels if a team has an injury or reevaluates their situation, but it sounds like he’s prepared to turn his focus to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.