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Phillies rumors: Not the last chance to deal

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With the trade deadline just hours away, the Phils appear set to do next to nothing. But this will not be their last chance to sell.

Today will not be the last opportunity to deal Cliff Lee.
Today will not be the last opportunity to deal Cliff Lee.
Brian Garfinkel

There are people who are going to panic when they see news like this.

The growing consensus seems to be that general manager Ruben Amaro is not close to pulling the trigger on a trade that could bring more talent into the organization and free them from some of the burdensome salaries that could limit them in the offseason.

But it's important to remember one main thing. Today will not be his last chance to deal.

Many of the contracts signed by some of the Phils' high-priced veterans have made dealing them difficult. Teams don't like the vesting option on Marlon Byrd's contract, the vesting option that A.J. Burnett will almost certainly trigger (unless he makes a declaration now that he will retire after the season), the vesting option that just triggered for next season on Jimmy Rollins' deal, the vesting option at the end of Cliff Lee's deal...

You see where I'm going with this. However, the result of those options and the big-time money that is associated with them, means most of the Phillies being talked about will clear waivers next month.

Is anyone going to risk taking on the $60 million owed to Ryan Howard through 2017? Is anyone going to assume the $52.5 million owed to Cliff Lee in 2015 and 2016, if his option vests? Is anyone going to be anxious to grab the $26 million still coming to Jonathan Papelbon through 2016? How about Burnett's $11.25 million next year? Or Byrd's $16 million through 2016? Heck, even Carlos Ruiz might clear waivers, with $17.5 million owed to him through 2017.

The only players who probably would not clear waivers are Chase Utley and Cole Hamels. Hamels' $94 million through 2018 (there is also a vesting option for him in 2019 that would pay him $24 million) is actually reasonable for a Top-10 MLB pitcher through his age 34 season. And Utley's $10 million deal for next season, with $15 million vesting options for 2016, '17 and '18, is also quite team-friendly, and would happily be scooped up by Oakland, San Francisco or any other team in need of a second baseman.

Now, it's possible that if Lee has a good game or two this month before he's placed on waivers that a team like Los Angeles or New York could put a claim in on him. But most insiders believe it's more likely he makes it through unclaimed than not.

Not only that, with the exception of Antonio Bastardo (who absolutely should be traded by 4pm today), every player mentioned is under contract for next year. That means the Phils can still deal them over the winter.

That is why Amaro is not going to just give his players away today. Everyone is available, but for the right price. If he doesn't move them today, he can still move most of them next month. And if he doesn't move them next month, he can move them over the winter. And if he doesn't move them over the winter, he can sell them next July.

So if Amaro stands pat, just know that it's likely because he's getting low-ball offers from executives who think he's under pressure to sell and are just waiting for him to cave. Or, that his players aren't actually all that valuable and aren't generating as much interest as people would like to believe.

No one wants Amaro to make a deal just for the sake of making one. That's how you end up with uneven deals like the ones that sent Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen and Bobby Abreu away.

While today is the Trade Deadline, Amaro understands there will be other opportunities. It's understandable that fans want to see something get done. But hopefully they'll understand that no deal is better than a bunch of bad deals, just for the sake of change.