Philly Sports Live

Reuben Amaro: Hamels, Lee rumors are “Silly”

The Phillies, who spent $69 million in recent months to extend Chase Utley’s contract, sign Marlon Byrd and re-sign Carlos Ruiz, and who have been searching for starting-pitching depth because they believe they can win next season, (according to reports) are listening to offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, a pair of true aces and two of the only highly paid players who have been healthy and performed to expectations the past two years. If Lee and Hamels are on their way out you may want to visit and being some new wagers for 2014.

“I think they’re silly,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said about the rumors, “but that’s OK.”

“I don’t believe they are true,” manager Ryne Sandberg said a few minutes earlier. “We’re trying to add pitching.”

If the Phillies are listening to offers for Hamels or Lee, Amaro would never confirm them. Perhaps a team would make the Phillies an offer they could not refuse?

But Amaro stressed Tuesday afternoon that he believes the Phillies can win in 2014, if everybody is healthy.

“We’re built to win,” he said. “I like our lineup. I’d like to add some pitching to it.”

Trading Hamels or Lee would contradict those words, unless they received something truly remarkable in return. Sources indicated it is unlikely that the Phillies are shopping or even listening much on Hamels. He is owed $118.5 million over the next five years. He also has a limited no-trade clause. Sources agreed the Phillies would listen closely on Lee, who would be easier to trade. He is owed $62.5 million over the next three years. He has a no-trade clause, but the fact he is owed less money makes him more attractive.

The Phillies would unlikely eat salary to trade Hamels or Lee, but Amaro said they would in the right situation.

“We’ve done it before,” he said, referring to Jim Thome’s trade to the White Sox in 2005. “If it makes us better.”

That could come into play if the Phillies can find somebody to take closer Jonathan Papelbon. He is owed $26 million the next two seasons, which could total $39 million if an option for 2016 automatically vests.

So reports about Hamels and Lee do not mean the Phillies have suddenly changed course and decided to rebuild.

That could happen later, like midseason.

“At some point, we may have to do that,” Amaro said. “Not right now we’re not. We’re not there. … I think we’ve got a pretty good lineup, as it stands today. If we can improve on it, we’ll try. But I like our lineup. We’ve been sitting here and discussing it internally. I like the balance in it. Is it older? Yes, it is. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worse just because it’s older.