Lester Gone, Hamels Talks Heat Up
Well, the pin has been pulled.
The Cubs and Lester have agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract, which means trade discussions regarding Cole Hamels are heating up. The Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers had been most interested in Hamels, but with the Cubs out of the picture the attention turns to the Red Sox and Dodgers, who have the prospects and wherewithal to take the remaining four years and $96 million on Hamels’ deal.
(Hamels’ contract jumps to five years, $110 million if a 2019 club option automatically vests based on innings pitched.)
A source said the Giants also are taking a run at Hamels. They pursued Lester, but finished third in that sweepstakes.
Ryne Sandberg said yesterday the Phillies would have to be wowed to trade Hamels, which is true to an extent. They are not going to trade Hamels for a crop of mid-level prospects. They cannot make the same mistake they made in 2009, when they traded Cliff Lee to the Mariners for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. The Phillies’ return for Hunter Pence, who they traded to San Francisco in 2012, also has been lackluster.
If the Phillies trade Hamels they have to hit big.
The Dodgers have a couple prospects the Phillies would love to have: infielder Corey Seager (No. 13 in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list) and outfielder Joc Pederson (No. 15). They might be able to pry away one. A source indicated the Dodgers and Phillies could put together a bigger package to improve the Phillies’ return, and that package could include Jimmy Rollins.
Of course, that is tricky because Rollins has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, but a source told CBSSports.com that Rollins would waive those rights to join the Dodgers. That is worth noting because the Phillies have maintained for weeks that Rollins has informed them this offseason that he would not waive his rights for any team.
The Dodgers have liked Rollins in the past, although that involved a different front office. They claimed Rollins and Lee on waivers in August 2012. The Dodgers tried to trade for them, offering All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon and possibly others in the deal.
The Phillies said no.
The Red Sox also have multiple prospects, including pitcher Henry Owens (No. 20), catcher Blake Swihart (No. 24), second baseman Mookie Betts (.812 OPS in 213 big-league plate appearances in 2014) and infielder Xander Bogaerts (.660 OPS in 594 plate appearances in 2014). They will have to part with at least one of them to get Hamels.
But there is no guarantee any of those teams acquire Hamels because they still have other options. Max Scherzer and James Shields are available on the free-agent market. They will cost only money, not prospects. The Reds could be looking to deal Johnny Cueto, who could come cheaper than Hamels.
The Phillies continue to try to trade other veterans on the roster, including Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies and Orioles have talked this week about Byrd. CSNPhilly.com reported talks are heating up for Bastardo with the Pirates interested.