MILWAUKEE -- Could the Phillies trade Cole Hamels?
That has been one of the hot questions posed by media members at these general managers meetings, and Ruben Amaro Jr. understands why.
Theyre only writing it because it happened before, the Phils GM said Wednesday.
He was referring to his trading of Cliff Lee in Dec. 2009. Amaro re-signed the lefthander as a free agent a year later.
Hamels will be eligible to free agency after the 2012 season. Amaro has said umpteen times that he would like to sign Hamels to a contract extensionhes told the pitcher and his representative that, as wellbut that hasnt stopped the speculation that Hamels could be dealt this winter.
Could it happen?
Hey, anything is possible.
Will it happen?
Highly, highly unlikely.
Did we say highly?
I cant say we'd never, ever trade anybody, Amaro said. But the fact of the matter is one of our strengths is our pitching. For us to cut into our starting pitching -- which is truly our strength, and with the possibility that we might not have Roy Oswalt back -- that would put us in quite a deficit. So the likelihood of that happening is not very good.
Amaro said it was a little different circumstance, when the Phils traded Lee away. That circumstance was the addition of Roy Halladay. The Phils say they traded Lee to re-stock the farm system after trading for Halladay. Dealing Lee was a very unpopular move in Philadelphia and Phillies officials know that. There would be a huge outcry if the team dealt Hamels.
Cole is homegrown, Amaro said. He's a guy we would like to keep. We're not up against a deadline right now. We have time to deal with it. Cole is a priority, but we have time to deal with it.
Hamels age is a big reason trading him seems illogical. Halladay will turn 35 in May. Lee will turn 34 in August. Hamels will pitch at 28 next season. He is the youngest member of the teams Big 3 starting rotation. He is the teams youngest star player -- period. The Phils need him if they are going to make a run at winning the World Series in 2012. Trading him just doesnt make sense for where this team wants to go.
Ruben wants to win a World Series, one person close to Amaro said. Hes not trading Cole Hamels.
One agent who has spoken with Phillies officials frequently this offseason believes the team will work out an extension with the lefty later this winter, once it has finished constructing its 2012 club.
Thats always been their style, the agent said.
The Phillies recently signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, 50 million contract. That was not done in a vacuum, Amaro said. He is well aware of Hamels approaching free-agency. Hamels made 9.5 million in 2011 and is eligible for salary arbitration this winter. His 2012 salary could rise above 14 million. Judging from industry comparables, Hamels could be looking at a multi-year deal in the neighborhood of 18 million per season, possibly more, after that.
Signing Papelbon will not preclude us from signing Cole Hamels, Amaro said.
In other matters, Amaro met with Bob Garber, the agent for free-agent Oswalt on Wednesday. Oswalt is seeking a multi-year deal. The Phillies seem reluctant to do that. There seems to be a strong possibility that the righthander will move on.
Were tying to get an idea if Roy wants to come back and if there's a possibility of making that happen, Amaro said of his conversation with Garber.
Garber also represents free-agent lefty C.J. Wilson. Sources with knowledge of Wilsons price tag say he is seeking a six-year deal worth more than 100 million. The Phillies are not in that one.
The Phils are trying to re-sign shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Amaro acknowledged speaking a number of times with Rollins agent, Dan Lozano, in recent weeks. Rollins could let his free-agency ride well into December as the market continues to take shape.
The Phils are on the verge of one free-agent signing. Backup catcher Brian Schneider appears to be on his way back on a one-year deal.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com.