Amaro on Hamels: ‘We Can Build with Him and We Can Build Without Him.”
The Winter Meetings are underway in San Diego but can Phillies fans really expect the Phillies to do?
For starters, keep an eye on Cole Hamels.
"We have made no bones about it, we need to rebuild the club," Amaro said in an interview with CSN Philly. "The beauty as I have said before, this might be the tenth time I have said it, the beauty of Cole Hamels is we can build with him and we can build without him."
It should be an interesting – and possibly a very good or very bad interesting – week for the Phillies. As I mentioned above, there is a real possibility of dealing Hamels and if the Phillies end up making a deal with Hamels involved it would be a franchise changing deal.
As Ruben Amaro told Ryan lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News:
“I’m actually probably optimistic about what’s been going on, dialogue-wise, some of the things we’ve discussed externally and internally,” Amaro said. “It’s been a very, very active communication market so far….It’s fortunate we’ve stayed out of the rumor mill, because I prefer to do things quietly. And it doesn’t do anybody any good when it’s out there. I like when it’s quiet. I like the dialogue we’ve had in the last several weeks.”
Dangling Hamels out there has put Amaro in possibly the best negotiating position he has had in his tenure as the Phillies' general manager. While he would like to make a big move, he doesn't have to. He can hold onto Hamels until the trade deadline and hope he can find a team to match what is believed to be an unreasonable asking price. He has choices, the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs and most likely others have interest in the Phillies ace. However, the Phillies face a difficult task given how little leverage they have in San Diego, other teams could lowball them with the notion that they want to get the rebuilding process started sooner than later.
"Cole Hamels has almost the perfect length of contract, with the four years, plus the option," Amaro explained. "But we can build with him because we still believe four or five years down the road he'll still be a very good and effective pitcher. Will he be a No. 1 at the point? We just don't know, about his healthy and effectiveness."
The reason Amaro would deal Hamels now?
"We're just trying to get younger and better," Amaro stated. "Those are the challenges for us, but we have made it clear we are in a little different path than we have been the past several years. We've been buyers and trying to contend and trying to add pieces."
To get younger, the Phillies will have to deal a valuable asset - Hamels is the only valuable asset they have that can fetch a top level prospect or maybe two in return. Its definitely not a position the Phillies have been in and its not something Amaro has done well in the past.
"We're in a different mode now and that's to try to do what we can to try and rebuild our core and to think more long term than short term," said Amaro.
If you remember Amaro tried to do this in 2009 when he claimed to be trying to restock the farm system by dealing the very popular Cliff Lee on the same day that he traded for Roy Halladay. They dealt Lee to Seattle for three minor league "prospects" none of which have turned out to help the Phillies. Amaro also tried to "sell" off proven players for prospects in 2012 when he sent Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence packing - so far no player obtained in those separate deals have helped the Phillies at the big league level.
Then there is Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley - both have full no-trade clauses, but might have some value.
"It depends on the player particularly with guys like Chase and Jimmy who are 10-and-five guys," Amaro acknowledged. "They have complete no-trade power. I think we are in a situation where, we're listeners on everybody regardless of what their no-trade situations are, but they are going to be the ones who make the decisions. I have communicated with them on the path that we're going to take and the path we have structured. It will really depend on whether they want to be a part of the short term plan or the long term play. I know that neither Jimmy or Chase want to go anywhere."
Rollins name has come up a few times this offseason with both New York teams. Rollins, who just turned 37, is owed $11 million next season in the final year of his four-year, $44 million deal.
The Phillies have to realize they are simply not going to be able to get a top prospect or young, productive major league talent in exchange for Rollins or Utley at this stage of their careers.
"We have a plan in place, whether we can execute that plan, there may be challenges to that plan, we'd like to have a different look to our club," Amaro admitted. "We might have to take a step or two back to move forward. Do we have to have to have a new group of players? I don't know if we have to, that's the goal and we'll see over the course of this offseason to kind of make that happen."
The next guy you can realistically expect to be traded would be Marlon Byrd. As ESPN's Jayson Stark reports, if the Orioles end up going the trade route for an outfielder, Byrd is "a name on their radar screen." Like Rollins and Utley, even though the veteran outfielder has experienced a career revival the last two seasons, batting .277 with 49 homers and 173 RBI, don't expect to get to much in return for him considering he will be 38-years old by the time next season ends.
Either way, with Hamels name in the mix it should be an interesting week for the Phillies.