The complicated Cole Hamels market

The Phillies could deal Hamels, but they won't get four top prospects for him. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There is a huge difference between a team's retooling and rebuilding. For the Philadelphia Phillies, that difference is left-hander Cole Hamels.

By keeping intact a starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro could easily fix several of the team's short-term problems and rebound quickly to contend in 2013. That would require signing Hamels, a free agent at the end of the season, to a long-term contract. Amaro has made an all-out effort to do this and has made quite clear that this is the initial route he will take before the July 31 trade deadline. The decision is the right one, the smart one.

However, if Amaro is not able to sign Hamels by July 31, in my view, the GM has no reasonable choice except to trade him, rather than hold on to the lefty and risk receiving only draft picks as compensation.

Of course, this is easier said than done.