The Phillies reportedly lost the team that had shown the most interest of late in trading for Cole Hamels when the Padres agreed to terms with James Shields late Sunday night. Padres’ GM A.J. Preller was determined to add a top of the rotation starter to his roster and did with Shields. And the consensus Monday was Preller is no longer interested in trading for Hamels.
Jayson Stark reached out to Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies’ GM told Stark that he expects Cole Hamels to be in camp with the Phillies when it opens next week and take the mound for Ryne Sandberg on Opening Day.
Amaro Jr. said things could change “in a phone call or two” but he does not see a scenario right now in which Hamels is not with the Phillies in Spring Training or on Opening Day.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is not backing down on his demands for Hamels, which are considered too high by a majority of those in the game. The Phillies’ front office is looking for three, if not four, of a team’s top prospects in return for Hamels, plus for the acquiring team to take on all of the remaining guaranteed money on Hamels’ contract.
According to clubs Jayson Stark spoke with about the negotiations for Hamels, Amaro Jr. is telling teams “he needs to win the deal in order to trade Hamels.” And Stark confirmed Monday that the Phillies “have been willing to pay little or none of the $96 million remaining on Hamels’ contract over the next four seasons.”
Interested teams expect the Phillies to roll the dice with Hamels, hope he stays healthy and try to trade him before July’s deadline.
Amaro Jr. acknowledged “he is still talking to several clubs about his ace” and “there are teams interested.” Amaro Jr. would not rule out trading Hamels at some point, but acquiring Hamels “requires talent and money.”
Bruce Levine asked the question Monday if the Cubs would continue their pursuit of Cole Hamels after James Shields decided to sign with the Padres. Levine pointed out the Cubs have the talent in the system to satisfy Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick, plus apparently the room in the payroll to add Hamels’ salary.
The Phillies are believed to be looking for a catcher in any deal for Hamels. Amaro Jr. reportedly wanted one of the shortstops in a package for Hamels last August when the Cubs put in a waiver claim on the southpaw. Levine thinks Welington Castillo could be used in a package for Hamels, plus one of Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Addison Russell or Arismendy Alcantara. And according to last week’s report from David Kaplan, the Phillies are one of the teams interested in Castillo.
Jed Hoyer said in November the front office was not looking to trade bats for arms at this point in the process. The Cubs realized then the organization was short on pitching while acknowledging how hard it is to acquire impact bats like the ones that are already in the system.
The front office’s late-push for James Shields proved the Cubs have the money to add another top of the rotation-type starter to the roster. The Cubs valued Shields on a three-year deal with a vesting option that reportedly carried a higher AAV than the contract Shields signed.
But not only did the pursuit of Shields show the Cubs have the payroll flexibility to add another high-end starting pitcher, it also may have tipped the front office’s hand as to the plan moving forward.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Shields was appealing to the Cubs “on the shorter term in part because club officials, after signing free agent lefty Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract, are reluctant to strike a similar deal with another big free-agent starter next off-season.”
On a three-year deal, or a four-year contract if the option vested, Shields’ contract would have expired right around the time the players that are prospects now will hit salary arbitration. Rosenthal thinks the Cubs will still be in the mix for one of the free agent starters next winter like Jordan Zimmermann or David Price, but the Cubs “are among the clubs that rightly view long-term deals for starting pitchers as carrying greater risk than reward.” And there is a very good chance that not all of the free-agent starters will sign five- and six-year contracts next off-season.
Ken Rosenthal does not see the Cubs sitting out of next year’s market but “if anything, their next big move might be to trade a top young hitter for a top young pitcher.”
If nothing else the last seven days has shown the Cubs are continuing to explore ways to add impact pitching to the roster from outside of the organization while sticking to the timeframe that was set last fall.