Talk of the Philadelphia Phillies trading Cliff Lee has been heard for a few years. Cole Hamels' name was mentioned as a movable commodity before he inked a mega-deal in 2012. Would general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. actually agree to dealing either one of his marvelous mound men?
The likelihood of Lee packing must be infinitely higher than Hamels heading to the Philadelphia airport this off-season. Lee is 35 and only has two guaranteed years left on his current contract. Hamels turns 30 on December 27 and is under full Phillies' control through 2018.
It seems impossible to believe that Amaro would deal a left-handed starting pitcher who's in his prime. The return for Hamels would have to be undeniably great and include at least two players who would make an immediate impact on Ryne Sandberg's 2014 team.
Dealing Lee is far from certain, but would make sense if a number of strong major league roster pieces would be exchanged for him. Replacing his arm isn't possible because of the highly unique nature of his presence in any rotation. Especially considering the recent finality of losing Roy Halladay, subtracting further from Bob McClure's starting staff doesn't seem to make sense.
Baseball's Winter Meetings naturally produce annual rumors that far outweigh actual trades. So, time will tell if talk of Lee, or Hamels, trades is purely just that.