Less than a week after David Kaplan reported the Phillies and a few other teams have contacted the Cubs about Welington Castillo and Travis Wood, a report from Jayson Stark indicated the Phillies could deal for a catcher and a shortstop this spring.
Ruben Amaro told Jayson Stark “he doesn’t plan to add a veteran shortstop or catcher before camp, but could deal for both this spring.”
The Phillies have been connected to Welington Castillo since the Cubs acquired Miguel Montero during the Winter Meetings.
The extent of the Phillies interest in Castillo is unknown. Ryne Sandberg is very familiar with Castillo from their days together moving up the Cubs’ system and he would obviously know what Castillo could add to the Phillies moving forward. Plus, Castillo is under team control for two more years beyond the 2015 season.
Bruce Levine questioned earlier in the week if Castillo could be used as part of a package, along with one of the Cubs’ shortstops, to acquire Cole Hamels. Based on the demands the Phillies’ front office is making in talks for Hamels, it would take including players, along with Castillo, that the Cubs are not believed to be interested in trading at this point in the process.
Questions continue to be asked as to what exactly is going on with the Phillies. The core of the team that won the World Series seven years ago is way past its prime, the Phillies have one of the worst farm systems in the game and the clubhouse is not conductive to winning according to Ryne Sandberg. There are questions as to who is actually calling the shots on the baseball side, Ruben Amaro Jr. or Pat Gillick, and the Phillies simply do not appear willing to part with players to help rebuild the organization.
The Cubs were one of the teams that tried to pry Cole Hamels from the Phillies last summer. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer put in a claim, the two teams talked and Amaro Jr. is believed to have asked for a package from the Cubs that included Addison Russell before Hamels was pulled back to finish the year in Philadelphia.
A majority of baseball thought Hamels would be traded at some point this off-season, especially with the amount of starting pitching options that could be available next winter and the risk of Hamels throwing another pitch in a Phillies’ uniform was too great for him not to be traded.
Buster Olney spoke with executives that think Amaro Jr. lost his best window to trade Hamels, last summer while he was in the middle of an excellent season and he could have possibly netted a return the Phillies are now requiring. Olney added that Hamels’ value will continue to diminish the longer the Phillies hang on to him.
The Phillies are looking for a package of prospects believed to include a team’s best three, if not four, young players and according to Ken Rosenthal at least one of those players must be a blue-chip prospect. The Phillies also are not budging on the fact the team will not include any of the guaranteed $96 million owed to Hamels over the next four years.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said this week he expects Cole Hamels to be in Phillies’ camp for Spring Training and on the mound Opening Day facing the Red Sox. Amaro Jr. has reportedly told teams interested in trading for Hamels he must win the deal in order to trade the lefty.
Amaro Jr. would not rule out trading Hamels before Opening Day when he spoke with Jayson Stark. Amaro Jr. said he’s still talking with teams about Hamels and there are clubs that are interested. But it would take a team with “talent and money” to add him to its roster.
The Phillies lost a trade partner for Hamels when the Padres landed free agent James Shields. Ken Rosenthal explained the Padres wanted Hamels and made “an aggressive offer” for him. Rosenthal did not elaborate on the offer, but a source he spoke with questioned if the Padres had enough to offer for Hamels to satisfy Amaro Jr.’s demands. A.J. Preller kept his three top prospects, RHP Matt Wisler, C Austin Hedges and OF Hunter Renfroe, plus Amaro Jr. reportedly covets RHP Andrew Cashner.
Rosenthal reported the Phillies would prefer to deal Hamels to the Red Sox if they could acquire either OF/INF Mookie Betts or C Blake Swihart in the deal. Ben Cherington reportedly does not want to include Betts and/or Swihart in a package for Hamels. Rosenthal reiterated what has been reported all off-season, the Phillies “want a lot from teams interested in Hamels – premium talent, plus a complete escape from his remaining financial obligation.” And regardless of who may be making the decisions for the Phillies, Amaro Jr. or Gillick, “the Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want” for Hamels.
Outside of Bruce Levine, the mainstream media has not connected the Cubs to Cole Hamels since December. While that could change quickly, it doesn’t seem likely the Cubs could acquire Hamels with the Phillies focusing on a deal with the Red Sox as Spring Training quickly approaches. But it is interesting Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick are looking for a catcher and the Phillies continue to be linked to Welington Castillo.