Where do the Philadelphia Phillies turn now? The season is getting away from them quickly on the heels of Roy Halladay‘s injury. Should they think about being sellers this year instead of buyers? Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are not riding in on white horses to rescue them. All signs point toward Cole Hamels testing the free-agent market, preventing the Phillies from locking him up long term. They now have multiple teams to contend with in the division, and they’ve burned through their best prospects.
The answer is to forfeit this race for the next few. Trade Hamels, who is probably, at best, 50-50 to re-sign with you. Offer Hamels to the Rangers for Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, getting necessary youth on the left side of your infield. Profar can sit for a little, while Jimmy Rollins, who is untradeable, stays at short. When Profar is ready, move Rollins to second. This trade may appeal to the Rangers even if they can’t sign both Josh Hamilton and Hamels long term since both prospects are blocked at their positions and Hamels could put them over the hump to win a championship this year.
Unless you get blown away in a deal, hang onto Shane Victorino and attempt to re-sign him. I don’t think he’ll be as pricey as some have speculated. Pick up the option on Carlos Ruiz and look at a possible multi-year deal next season. Take a shot in free agency on a guy like Carlos Quentin, who, at the right price, can give you some middle-of-the-order pop.
Most importantly, for Halladay and Howard, do not rush them or give them a timetable. Even if it takes a year, make sure they’re as close to 100 percent as they can get before they get back on the field. Unfortunately for Utley, I don’t think he can get back to even being a fraction of the player he once was.
To start the 2013 season, you still have Halladay and Cliff Lee, which is the best one-two punch in baseball. And moving Hamels gives you an opportunity to get younger while giving you more financial flexibility. There’s being aggressive and being stupid, and at this point for the Phillies, to rush players or make high-risk trades in order to chase the division would be the latter.