By Todd Zolecki, Phillies.com
NEW YORK — Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is exactly the type of pitcher a contending team wants in a postseason race.
The Phillies know that better than anybody.
Hamels, who led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series championship, dominated Tuesday night in a 6-0 victory over the Mets at Citi Field. He allowed six hits and struck out eight in eight innings to improve to 6-5 with a 2.55 ERA. He has a 1.58 ERA (15 earned runs in 85 2/3 innings) in his last 12 starts, entering the night sixth out of 95 qualifying pitchers in ERA since June 1.
There has been plenty of speculation about Hamels’ availability before Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, but sources told MLB.com on Tuesday that the Phillies have had no substantive talks with any team about Hamels. That includes the Dodgers. There are multiple reports that the Dodgers and Phillies have been in contact recently, and the Phillies have requested the Dodgers’ top three prospects to make a deal.
But one source said the Phillies have made no such requests because the two teams have not talked in depth.
“All I know is I signed here for a very extended period of time, so that’s what I’m going to uphold, to be a Phillie as long as I possibly can because I enjoy it,” said Hamels, who signed a six-year, $144 million contract in July 2012. “This is the place that I want to win again. It was such a great experience. Especially these young guys, you can’t tell them enough that this is a place you want to win a World Series, because it’s the most exciting time you’ll ever have in your career. For me, I want to be able to have it again here.”
The Phillies have made teams aware they would need to be thoroughly impressed to trade Hamels, but talks have never gotten much further than that.
“You know what, I’d be surprised,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about a potential trade involving his ace. “But that’s not really my department. I’m not totally sure what conversations are going on. I sure like when he takes the mound for us.”
A source said the Phillies haven’t gotten particularly close to the finish line in any trade discussions. They have numerous players available, including Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett and Antonio Bastardo, but teams believe Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is under pressure to deal and ultimately will sell low to make a trade.
But ownership has not ordered Amaro to shed payroll, which does not force his hand. Players like Hamels, Lee, Papelbon, Byrd and other veterans are signed through at least next season, which means Amaro can try to clear them through waivers next month and trade them before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.
The Phillies can also wait to try to trade them in the offseason.
It seems the Phillies are prepared for that possibility.
It looks like nobody is going anywhere right now, although everything can change with one phone call before Thursday’s Deadline.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who has 10-and-5 trade rights, is not headed anywhere. He hit a solo home run to right field in the third inning to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was his 14th home run of the season.
Grady Sizemore hit a solo home run off the right-field foul pole in the fourth inning to make it 2-0. It was his first with the Phillies. Chase Utley, who has 10-and-5 rights like Rollins, hit the fifth grand slam of his career in the seventh inning to make it 6-0. He also isn’t headed anywhere.
Nothing is certain, but it seems almost a certainty that Hamels is sticking around, despite what he hears.
“I think we all have ESPN and MLB Network on any time we’re in a clubhouse, so you hear your name,” Hamels said. “It’s just kind of what happens in baseball. In this day and age, there’s more trades made than having guys stick around on clubs. You don’t see the Derek Jeter or the Chipper Jones type situations anymore. You just have to go out and play. I enjoy playing the game of baseball wherever it may be. I just want to go out there and do well for my teammates, whatever organization wants me and especially to put on a good show for the fans.
“I understand the nature of the business. I’ll never have hard feelings, because it’s a tough position for an organization to be in, for fans, for other teams. I just enjoy pitching for this team, and that’s what I’m doing at this moment.”