Phillies willing to deal Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, per report
UPDATE: Jayson Stark says that the Phillies are asking for huge returns on Lee and Hamels, and refusing to eat any of their contracts, making a deal "unlikely."
Already having stated their willingness to deal closer Jonathan Papelbon and outfield slugger Domonic Brown, Buster Olney of ESPN has reported that the Phillies are also okay with trading starters Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
No one is untouchable at this point, it seems, and Ruben Amaro is happy to let other teams know it. Lee and Hamels could fetch the best return out of any of the other prospective deals, as Papelbon's contract and personality make him less desireable and scouts have lingering concerns over Brown's defense and swing.
However, trading their best starting pitchers is a tough way to deepen their starting pitching. It wasn't too long ago that the Phillies were expected to be a part of the David Price or Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, and rookie Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, it's been noted, hasn't thrown much at all this winter, and could miss out on a rotation spot that's been widely assumed to be his.
Either move could be classified as a "blow up," something Amaro has specified the team won't be doing. Despite a seeming need to do so, the GM has stated that the Phillies' goal is to make the playoffs every year (which he reiterated in mid-November), so any sort of rebuild-talk has been offset by his desire to try and win the division, supposedly. Trading one of the aces could go a long way in rebuilding, but offer considerably less help in the short term. Should a trade go through, what the Phillies say they're doing and what they're actually doing wouldn't quite match up.
A Lee trade makes more sense on paper than Hamels, who was signed to a six-year extension in 2012. Lee's deal makes him $25 million in 2014 and 2015, with a $27.5 million club option for 2016. Lee finished 2013 with a 14-8 record, a 2.87 ERA, and 222 strikeouts. He finished 6th in NL Cy Young voting. He made the All-Star team for the fourth time and his SO/BB ratio was the best in the league. Hamels went 8-14 with a 3.87 ERA and 202 strikeouts, though run support was scarce across the board.
This is also very preliminary, as the Phillies have said they are ready to have a conversation about dealing Lee and/or Hamels, not that they are ready to trade them - and they can both refuse trades to 21 teams. As desperately as Amaro has clung to his veterans in the past, the sudden desire to trade them would be quite the shift in tone from whom Amaro has traditionally kept around in the past and what direction he wishes to take the team in the future.