Since the dawn of free agency, it has been rare for MLB players to play for the same team their entire careers like Derek Jeter, Todd Helton, or Chipper Jones did. Usually, there is a better offer (i.e. money) around the bend somewhere, if not the same opportunity to make the postseason or bask in the adoration of longtime fans.
Then again, baseball is a business, the game’s stars say publicly, so there is little reason to consider players more than commodities on a volatile market. Owners and management sometimes have to move beloved, expensive stars in order to pick up young players for the future and shed salaries owed in the present. Small-market teams are always more likely to pull the trigger. Good luck trying to trade Jeter at any point in his career.
Colorado and Miami are in a different situation than perennial contenders who spend and earn filthy riches. Even the teams in baseball’s bigger markets have serious questions to ask of their organizations in 2014. If they have a shot to contend in the coming years, they need to get bold and trade their franchise players now. Here are five untouchable MLB stars who should be traded to help their teams in the future.
5. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
When Cole Hamels signed a seven-year deal worth $153 million through 2018, it appeared No. 35 would be a Phillie for most (if not all) of his career. Why wouldn’t he? After all, Hamels pitched the team to their second-ever World Series title in franchise history. Hamels nabbed MVP honors for the 2008 World Series and seemed destined for all-time franchise greatness. Mostly, the team has lagged behind the lefty following his off year in 2009.
With no bright future ahead in Philadelphia, Hamels would be best dealt as a trading piece to stock up the team on young players. Fox Sports reports Hamels is indeed on the trading block in 2014, but there are few takers for such a pricey contract ($96 million owed through 2018). Next year might be a tough time at Citizens Bank Park without Hamels, Cliff Lee, or even Jonathan Papelbon (should they all be traded), but this move makes sense if Philly gets a quality return.