READING, Pa. -- If the Phillies do not trade Cole Hamels before Opening Day, they could have two aces on the block before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.
Cliff Lee missed much of last season with an injured left elbow, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday that Lee has thrown three or four times off a mound recently without any issues. Amaro said the southpaw is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training opens next month.
That is significant because if Lee stays healthy and pitches effectively, he could become a valuable trade chip come July.
"There's plenty of teams out there that need pitching, especially when you talk about top-of-the-rotation left-handers," Amaro said. "They don't fall off trees. I know there are going to be more than one or two contenders out there. ... I think we're going to have opportunities, as long as these guys stay healthy. They're going to be pretty attractive pieces."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.