PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have no Cole Hamels to trade this July.
Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Jake Diekman, Ben Revere and Ken Giles are long gone, too. They have been shipped elsewhere in the past 11 months, which should make the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline less gripping than last July, when the organization hoped to make franchise-altering and rebuild-boosting moves.
Expect more modest improvements this summer, if the Phillies make any at all.
Consider the organization's arguably most attractive trade chip, working under the assumption they will not trade any of their young, controllable talents.
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA in 16 starts. The 29-year-old veteran would be a welcome addition to a team looking to shore up the back of its rotation, but he will not garner a haul approaching anything close to Hamels.
Look at last year's Trade Deadline for comparable returns.
The Cubs acquired right-hander Dan Haren from the Marlins for a pair of Minor Leaguers not ranked among Miami's Top 30 Prospects. Haren was 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts at the time. The Pirates acquired left-hander J.A. Happ from the Mariners for Triple-A pitcher Adrian Sampson. Happ was 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 21 appearances.
Haren's and Happ's contracts expired following the 2015 season. Hellickson will become a free agent after this season. A two-month rental always affects the return of any potential trade.
That being said, the return for Hellickson figures to be relatively small. Combine that with the fact that Philadelphia is under no economic pressure to make a trade and the Phils, according to those familiar with their thinking, do not feel compelled to trade Hellickson, who could solidify the rotation and mentor the likes of Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin the remainder of the season.
The Phillies feel the same way about other potential trade pieces, which includes David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey, Carlos Ruiz, Andres Blanco and Peter Bourjos, who became one of the hottest hitters on the planet in the past couple weeks.
Closer Jeanmar Gomez is intriguing. He has a 2.89 ERA and 21 saves this season. A contender looking for bullpen help could be interested, and the Phils should be more than willing to trade him at the right price. After all, Gomez essentially transformed himself from middle reliever to closer almost overnight and essentially out of Philadelphia's desperation. The club should feel comfortable knowing that it could find a suitable replacement.
But again, would a contender make it worth the Phillies' while?
Just hustle, Nick
Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Nick Williams was benched this week for the third time this season, and the second time for a lack of hustle. Williams is one of the key pieces from the Hamels trade, and he could join the Phillies before the end of the season.
While some fans are alarmed at Williams' benchings, the Phils are not. While they certainly don't consider it ideal, they consider these lessons part of the development process for Williams, who turns 23 in September.