By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Now that the Phillies have officially traded the franchise’s all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, the rebuild has begun.

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“After last year, we decided it was time for us to turn the page and make a concerted effort to try to get younger and put us in a position to try to get a younger core,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Howard Eskin and Hollis Thomas Tuesday on 94WIP.

Listen to Ruben Amaro with Howard Eskin on 94WIP:

 

So who’s next to go? What about the declining 35-year-old first baseman Ryan Howard, who is set to make over $70 million through the next three seasons?

“We’re not going to release Ryan Howard,” Amaro said. “He’s still a productive player, he’s a quality person, he’s somebody that we’d still like our young players to be around. As I’ve said, and I’ll say it again, with the direction of our club we are looking for younger and more athletic players and he is not as young and as athletic as he used to be. Pretty simple. So, if we can reconfigure the club in a way that gets to that goal, that was part of the process.”

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Eskin pressed Amaro, asking if the Phillies are better off without Howard.

“Perhaps at this stage of his career, he would be in a better opportunity playing somewhere else and we would have a better opportunity to be move our organization forward with younger players,” Amaro continued. “Again, as an organization with what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get younger and more athletic. And I can say that about four or five different players on our club.”

Howard will earn full no-trade rights on May 2nd, 2015 thanks to Major League Baseball’s 10-5 rule, as Howard will reach ten years of MLB service.

For the 36-year-old second baseman Chase Utley, he already has a full no-trade clause and has expressed that he wants to stay in Philadelphia.

“I think that Chase’s thought process has always been the same,” Amaro explained. “He wants to be in red stripes, he wants to be part of a winning team, he wants to be part of—even if it has to be a transition—I know he doesn’t like to lose baseball games, but I think he feels he can make an impact on some of the younger guys that we would go with to move the organization forward. That’s kind of what he wants to do.”

“I think he has enough faith in [acting CEO] Pat [Gillick] and myself and others, to get back to where we were before,” Amaro continued. “Listen, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got some good pieces coming. We’re working on trying to build that new core and I think frankly, Chase wants to be the guy to help bridge that gap.”

 

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