The Philadelphia Phillies held onto their lefty starter Cole Hamels through the trade deadline in 2014 with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. making the asking price for any of their desirable players far too high, desperately grapsing to the belief that his team could still win despite their aging core.
The Phillies truly are an aging team. If anything proves that they need to rebuild and fill their farm system with some young, premium talent, it was their 73-89 record on the year, tied for sixth worst in the league with the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox.
Players, fans, MLB executives alike, no one likes the word “rebuild” but it is what the Phillies need to do. The biggest and most important trading chip they have to play is Hamels.
Using the left hander to trade for a group of young talent to fortify their farm system is their only real chance to begin to rebuild the team to its former dominance.
This may not be easy with the plethora of free agent starters on the market in Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields. The Phillies’ price will be high for Hamels who, despite his 9-9 record, had a career year in 2014 posting a 2.46 ERA.
They will want propects and then there’s the small issue of the team taking on the last four years of Hamels’ seven-year $153 million contract, which could actually be a good deal for a team with prospects galore.
Free agents on the market may be looking for a deal that size, while a team would only have to commit to Hamels for four years with a team option for 2019, should they want to keep him. Thus, they’d be paying him at most $90-$114 million.
Hamels is one of the leagues premiere lefties, proven in both the regular and postseason who is coming off a career year. Another plus for a team willing to barter with the Phillies for Hamels? His age. Hamels will turn 31 over the offseason. He’s experienced yet some of his best years ma still be a head of him.
With all the free agents on the market the Phillies may wait until the trade deadline to deal Hamel’s when his value may be higher to contending teams in need of pitching.
However, Hamels has a partial no-trade clause in his contract and rumor has it that he is updating the list of teams he can be traded to as we speak. The list currently consists of the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers.
The Cubs showed interest in Hamels over the summer and with their promising young up and coming team, the Cubs could be a team that Hamels may add to his list. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds, and it may be awhile but here are the three most likely trade destinations for Hamels.
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3. Texas Rangers
Think about it. The Rangers would have a top three rotation that could go up against the best of the best if (assuming everyone stays healthy) you put Cole Hamels in between Yu Darvish and Derek Holland.
At that point, the Rangers intention of re-signing Colby Lewis, who’s had a spotty career, looks like a really good plan. Maybe that is what the Rangers have been thinking all along.
They have plenty of prospects which is exactly what the Phillies’ are looking for and last time we checked they were on Hammel’s list of teams he could be traded to.
There could, or probably will, be changes in that list as it has been rumored that Hamels is working on that list that is due November 1. However, that list of nine teams will likely expand, not get smaller. Look for Texas to be on the Phillies radar as a potential landing spot for Hamels.
2. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs have been tied to Hamels since he was put on revocable waivers during the 2014 season. The club put in a claim for Hamels but obviously the Phillies weren’t going to just let Hamels go without a big return.
Everyone is (or should be) aware of the Cubs’ young team and farm system full of prospects. There have even been worries that they might have too many great players at the same position that things may get a little crowded.
The outfield is croweded with guys like Jorge Soler and Alberto Almora. Plus, the Cubs’ aquired 20-year old Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics over the summer.He is currently waiting in the wings while the 24-year old Starlin Castro starts for the Cubs at shortstop.
There is no shortage of what the Phillies are looking for and the Cubs could use an established starter to join guys like Jake Arietta in the starting rotation.
1. Boston Red Sox
Although it’s my opinion that Hamels would be a better fit with the Texas Rangers or the Chicago Cubs, he has been most closely tied to the Boston Red Sox in recent MLB news (maybe “speculations” is a better word).
However when you think about the fact that the Red Sox, who were pretty much out of contention, traded away three of their five starting pitchers, including sending two to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jon Lester to Oakland and Jake Peavy to San Francisco, Hamels starts to make more than enough sense.
As for who the Red Sox would be able to offer the Phillies, those options are still being explored.
It’s no secret that they are shopping the outfielder that they acquired from Oakland at the trade deadline but the Phillies have no interest in Yoenis Cespedes, so the Red Sox will have to keep searching their farm system for a player or two that they’d be willing to part with.