Phillies holding Hamels despite ‘aggressive offer’

As Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently, left-hander Cole Hamels now is expected to be with the club for Opening Day, following an offseason full of trade rumors.

Perhaps the Phillies have been wise to exercise patience in looking for a return that could jumpstart their rebuilding process. On the other hand, it’s also possible the club has been too picky instead of simply taking the best package available now and moving forward.

Amaro has succeeded in trading shortstop Jimmy Rollins and outfielder Marlon Byrd this offseason but so far has not unloaded Hamels, fellow lefty Cliff Lee (coming off an elbow injury), closer Jonathan Papelbon or first baseman Ryan Howard. Of those, Hamels would command by far the best package, considering his track record, strong 2014 (a 2.46 ERA in 30 starts) and age (31).

Yet the chances of a Hamels deal took a dive when the Padres agreed to a four-year contract with free agent James Shields over the weekend. San Diego, one of nine teams not on Hamels’ no-trade list, “wanted Hamels” and “made an aggressive offer” for him, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. But the Phillies, apparently looking for at least one “blue-chip prospect” in return, did not feel they were getting enough to move Hamels and the nearly $100 million left on his contract.

A source told Rosenthal that Philadelphia would prefer to trade with Boston, but the Red Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade list, and so far the club has not been willing to offer what the Phillies want. Therefore, unless something changes, they will go into the regular season with Hamels and take the risk of injury or underperformance hurting his value.

— Andrew Simon

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