Cole Hamels faced the media onslaught Saturday in Clearwater and while he did not back down from the comments he made to Bob Nightengale, he was more diplomatic in what could be the first of many rounds with the media before he’s finally traded.
Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed what many in the game think is a steep price tag for Hamels with Jayson Stark. Amaro Jr. explained that Cole Hamels is Cole Hamels no matter what. He’s a proven winner and the Phillies have not thought for one second about reducing their asking price for the lefty.
According to Jayson Stark, the Phillies are prepared to hang on to Hamels for as long as it takes to receive a package of prospects they feel is worthy of a pitcher the caliber of Cole Hamels. Amaro Jr. does not think the Phillies are risking anything by waiting to trade Hamels.
Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jayson Stark, “If Cole Hamels continues to be Cole Hamels, which we fully expect him to be, why would it decline? It doesn’t decline for us, internally. I can tell you that.” Amaro Jr. is also not concerned about keeping him throughout the season and attempt to deal him next winter, even with the number of free agent starting pitchers that could be on the market.
Ruben Amaro Jr. has reportedly told teams interested in Cole Hamels that he has to be the clear winner in the deal, or he simply won’t trade him. Jayson Stark basically confirmed Amaro Jr.’s statement by reporting the teams he’s talked to that have interest in Hamels said the Phillies asking price has not changed since November.
Stark explained players involved in the talks might have been altered slightly, but “the gist is, to trade for Cole Hamels, a team isn’t merely going to have to pay retail. It’s going to have to overpay. Now. Next month. And deep into the summer.”
It’s believed the Phillies are demanding a package of minor leaguers, headlined by one of a team’s top three prospects, and not Major League players, which is why the Red Sox and Phillies have not agreed on a deal. Ben Cherington would rather send players from his Major League roster to Philadelphia for Hamels.
Shortly after reports indicated the Red Sox agreed to terms with INF Yoan Moncada, the focus turned to Boston possibly putting together a package for Hamels that might pry him from the Phillies. But even with Moncada in the organization, it’s believed Cherington still will not include INF/OF Mookie Betts or C Blake Swihart in a deal for Hamels. The Phillies are requiring either Betts or Swihart be part of the trade.
The Cubs are viewed as one of the teams that have the prospects to make a deal with the Phillies. And Jim Duquette recently reported that the Cubs are one of the four likeliest landing spots for Hamels. But it is split within the game on the level of the Cubs’ interest based on acquisition cost.
Jim Duquette explained that the general belief is that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would deal from their prospect surplus to acquire Hamels. It would require the Phillies to take prospects not named Kris Bryant or Addison Russell or Jorge Soler for Hamels because the Cubs simply are not trading one of those three players. And the Phillies asking for Russell is believed to date back to last summer when the Cubs put in the waiver claim on Hamels.
Theo Epstein has mentioned recently on two different occasions the possibility of using prospects to acquire another starting pitcher at some point. Epstein does not anticipate a big move being made during Spring Training but he would not rule out a trade happening in-season, or next winter, if it made sense for the team.
The Cubs are believed to be one of the four teams, along with the Red Sox, that made a real offer to Ruben Amaro Jr. for Hamels. And the Cubs have been linked heavily to Cole Hamels in recent days.
Until the Phillies receive an offer for Cole Hamels that Ruben Amaro Jr. cannot refuse, the Cubs will continue to be one of the handful of teams linked to the southpaw.