Phillies trade rumors: Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee could be on block

Mike Ehrmann

The Phillies had previously said they were not looking to trade either player, but recent reports indicate they are available.

The Philadelphia Phillies have given indication to teams that they are willing to discuss trades involving ace pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.

Previously, the Phillies have said that neither Lee or Hamels were available in a trade and that the team was set on keeping both to head up their rotation. However, the two players could net the Phillies a bundle of of valuable prospects, something a bottom-half farm system can not afford to dismiss outright.

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Hamels may be the more desirable pitcher of the two given the fact he is six years younger than the 35-year-old Lee. However, he is still owed $112.5 million over the next five years with a vesting option for an additional $24 million that could take him through his age-35 season. He might be good enough that the contract will be seen as a boon, but other teams may be hesitant about picking up such a deal. Lee, on the other hand, is owed $25 million each of the next two years and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016, so, while it's money-heavy, it's also short-term.

Lee has also posted better stats than Hamels in recent years. While Hamels has been no slouch with a 3.15 ERA and 1.09 WHIP the past three years, Lee has been just that much better, posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over the same timeframe.

Both players have finished in the top-10 of Cy Young voting twice in the last three years and attribute much of their success to pinpoint control. Lee has led the NL in walks per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio each of the last two seasons while Hamels is not far behind.

Were the Phillies to trade one of the pitchers, the other could follow given the fact the team would likely be giving up on competing in 2014 at that point. However, Philadelphia could also look to keep Hamels around on his long-term contract for when they are once again in contention for a playoff spot.

Trading one or both players would open up an enormous hole in the Phillies' rotation. The team has already been looking for some help in the back end of the pitching staff. They currently have Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone and Cuban Miguel Gonzalez penciled into the 3-5 spots in the rotation.

Though there have yet to be rumors about specific teams chasing Hamels or Lee, it can be assumed that the same clubs chasing Rays ace David Price would be in play. That includes teams like the Dodgers, Mariners, Rangers and Yankees. The Boston Red Sox have also shown in interest in making a deal with the Phillies for Lee in the past.

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