Negotiating 101

It's still too early to determine the trade value of Cole Hamels. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

MIAMI — The Phillies have not traded Cole Hamels. They have not traded Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Ty Wigginton, Juan Pierre or Cliff Lee.

The rumor du jour — and be ready for this, because it'll be a long July — was the Phillies were at least listening to potential offers for anything and anyone. Well that makes perfect sense. These Phillies are 11 games back and nine games under .500. It's harder to believe a run will happen by the day.

But the Phillies will not be trading any major piece anytime soon. It's as simple as that.

These "calls" that are being reported could very well go as such (and there are indications they sounded like this).

AMARO: "Hello, Team X. We're really in a hole and assessing our options. So, hypothetically, what would you offer should Cole Hamels become available?"

TEAM X: "What sort of package are you looking for?"

AMARO: "The sun, stars, and moon."

TEAM X: "We would certainly be interested, but not at that price. Come back to us later when we know who else is available and what other teams are buying."

OK, maybe Ruben Amaro Jr. sounded different, but you have the idea. The Phillies will set their sights high early in trade talks. It does not mean they will make a trade or receive what they want. It means nothing.


Well, firstly, Hamels' value is totally dependent on the rest of the market. If the Milwaukee Brewers decline to make Zack Greinke available, then Hamels' worth shoots up because he's the only elite pitcher available. If the New York Yankees decide a rash of injuries to their staff necessitate the acquisition of another top arm, then Hamels' worth shoots up because teams must outbid the Yankees.

But none of this is known on July 2, with 29 days until the deadline.

There also remains a possibility — more realistic than some are led to believe — the Phillies retain Hamels. In a Sunday column, I wrote the Phillies can and should sign him. But they must decide whether they are true players for his services before July 31. If they aren't, trade him for the best available package.

Still, remember, what the best available hitter on last year's market (Carlos Beltran) fetched: One top prospect. Beltran was a rental, much like Hamels. Both are not eligible for draft-pick compensation. Hamels may be a more valuable player than Beltran, but we are not comparing players. We are comparing markets.

Could this summer's market offer more in return? No one knows. Hence, what is the harm in calling other teams to ascertain the current value their potential trade chips? None.

Just make sure it is placed in the proper context.

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