According to Jim Duquette, the Cubs are one of the four likeliest landing spots for Cole Hamels. And Jim Bowden has heard, but has not been able to confirm, the Cubs are one of the four teams that have made a real trade offer to the Phillies for Cole Hamels.
Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick are holding firm in their asking price for Hamels. Amaro Jr. has told teams he has to clearly win any trade involving Hamels. The Phillies are believed to be asking for a package of three to four of a team’s top prospects with the headliner of the deal, depending on the strength of the team’s farm system, one of the organization’s top three minor league players.
Multiple reports have suggested the Phillies would want Addison Russell included in a package from the Cubs, the same starting point in the conversation between the two teams last season when the Cubs claimed Hamels off waivers. According to Jon Paul Morosi, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have drawn a “very, very firm line” on not including Kris Bryant or Addison Russell or Jorge Soler in a trade for Hamels.
Jim Duquette reported the “industry is split on the Cubs’ level of interest based on the acquisition cost.” Duquette explained it’s believed the Cubs would be willing send prospects to the Phillies for Hamels, just not Bryant or Russell which falls in line with what Morosi reported. The Cubs have a package of players in mind they would be willing to part with for Hamels and take back all of the risk of the four-years and $96 million left on his contract.
But according to Duquette, Ruben Amaro Jr. must have Kris Bryant or Addison Russell as the headliner of a package of prospects for Hamels in order to deal him to the Cubs.
And the insistence of Bryant or Russell being in a trade from the Cubs meshes with Bob Nightengale’s report about the players the Phillies are asking for Hamels from the Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres and Cardinals.
The Phillies will reportedly not deal Hamels to Boston without either C Blake Swihart or INF/OF Mookie Betts going to Philadelphia. Andrew Friedman will not even discuss his top four prospects (SS Corey Seager, OF Joc Pederson, LHP Julio Urias and RHP Grant Holmes) with the Phillies. It’s questionable if the Padres would have enough to offer for Hamels because Amaro Jr. did not like A.J. Preller’s offer of OF Hunter Renfroe and C Austin Hedges. And the Phillies won’t talk to the Cardinals unless RHP Carlos Martinez can be part of the discussion.
Theo Epstein was asked Thursday if there could be any trades made during Spring Training. Epstein explained, “Anything is possible. We’ll be open to opportunities that come up. We’re not setting out to make a major personnel move before Opening Day. But we just had our organizational meetings. It’s impressive when you look at the volume of quality players we have coming, the options at different positions, and that’s the position you try to get to so you can entertain the possibility of moving players and still have some depth and some redundancy at different positions. We’ll be open to it, but we feel great about the players we have here in camp and in the organization, and we’re not out there trying to move anybody.”
Reports from ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine, Comcast SportsNet, the Sun-Times and Tribune since Wednesday linked the Cubs to Cole Hamels in some capacity. And the Phillies are still interested in Welington Castillo according to multiple reports.
Based on the Cubs’ late push to sign James Shields, there should be room in the payroll to add Cole Hamels. The lefty is owed $22.5 million over the next four years plus the $6 million buyout ($96 million guaranteed) on the $20 million club option for 2019.
Patrick Mooney indicated Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have about $5 million left in the budget right now (Gordon Wittenmyer reported maybe $6 million) and could use the money already earmarked for Welington Castillo ($2.1 million) and Travis Wood ($5.685 million), if those two players are traded, to pay for a good part of what a player like Hamels would be paid this season.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, “the high asking price in young players and the $96 million left on his contract” remain the obstacles trading for Cole Hamels.
Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed Hamels’ comments to USA Today. The Phillies’ GM said the last time he looked a player cannot demand to be traded. Amaro Jr. said Hamels will be part of the team until he’s not and he fully expects him to pitch for the Phillies on Opening Day.
Cole Hamels is meeting with Phillies media Saturday for the first time this spring.
The Phillies do not have to move Cole Hamels and are reportedly waiting for a team like the Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals or Padres to meet their asking price for one of the few aces in the game.