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St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies seem like a trade match

Rumors persist that the St. Louis Cardinals are attempting to make a major deal to bolster their starting rotation before the non-waiver trade deadline Thursday.

The Redbirds have most closely been linked to the Philladelphia Phillies who are shopping pricey post season hero Cliff Lee, grizzled veteran A.J. Burnett and, potentially, ace Cole Hamels.

Lee has been struggling to come back from an elbow injury, so he might be the cheapest player to acquire in terms of talent. But he's costly in terms of dollars with a $25 million salary due in 2015 and an option for 2016 at $27.5 million with a buyout of $12.5 million.

Burnett has a mutual option on his contract that would pay him $15 million if exercised. If his club declines the offer, it becomes a player option for $7.5 million.

Hamels is under contract for at least four more seasons at $22.5 million per year. He has a $20 million option for a fifth year with a $6 million buyout.

While that is a lot of real people money, it's a lot better than the Cardinals could expect to do if they made a trade for Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price and then tried to sign him to a contract extension.

Phildelphia, which according to multiple reports, had scouts at St. Louis' Class AAA Memphis affiliate's game Tuesday night, wants three or four top prospects to part with Hamels. I wonder about the Phillies' willingness to trade Hamels because it seems as if the club dangled him only in hopes of winning the talent lottery.

I'd hate to see the Cardinals give up the significant amount of their future -- including top prospect Oscar Taveras -- that it would take to pry Hamels away from Philadelphia.