Spring Training is underway throughout baseball and Cole Hamels is in Clearwater preparing for his first Grapefruit League start on Friday against the Yankees.
The Phillies are in no rush to trade Cole Hamels as Ruben Amaro Jr. waits to see which team will step up and pay the asking price he’s set for the lefty. The Phillies are believed to be looking for a team’s top three or four prospects plus take back the remaining $96 million guaranteed to Hamels over the next four years.
“I would sincerely doubt it. I know there is a lot of speculation coming from a lot of different angles on that. But we’ve never been out there telling people we’re going to be trading Cole Hamels.”
“The only thing that we’ve been telling people is basically the same thing, the same thing that we’ve kind of been talking about since October is we’re kind of open-minded on everything and keeping all of our possibilities, keeping them all alive,” Amaro Jr. said. “In whatever way we can improve our ballclub, whatever way we can improve our club just not for now but for the future as well, we’ll look in to it. I understand there is a lot of talk out there about it, but that’s part of the game.”
Amaro Jr. admitted almost three weeks ago eight teams kicked the tires on Hamels during the off-season and four of those teams made real offers. The Red Sox and Cubs are believed to be two of the teams.
Multiple reports have pointed to Amaro Jr. telling teams he must clearly win the trade in order to move Hamels and a team will not pay retail for Hamels, they would have to overpay to acquire him. In recent days, the phrase “asking for the moon” has popped up on several occasions when describing what Amaro Jr. is expecting for Hamels.
Based on reports, the consensus is that the Red Sox make the most sense to acquire Cole Hamels. The Red Sox have a need for a top of the rotation arm and have the prospects in its system to satisfy the Phillies’ asking price. Plus, it’s believed Ruben Amaro Jr. would rather work out a trade with Boston because he prefers the players he could acquire from the Sox system.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is not backing off his demands for either INF/OF Mookie Betts or C Blake Swihart to be included in the package for Hamels. And Ben Cherington is not backing down on the fact he will not include either Betts or Swihart in a deal. Cherington reportedly would like to use players on his Major League roster, and not prospects, to acquire Hamels especially if the Phillies will not include any money in the trade.
While not specifically mentioning Hamels, Buster Olney reported Saturday “teams find Philly unrealistic about how much money the Phillies should eat in deals involving these big-money options that are attached to their players.”
The Red Sox like the arms they have in camp and are in the wait and see mode on Hamels. Boston feels they have enough pitching without having to trade for Hamels, at least for now.
According to Sean McAdam, the Sox “continue to closely monitor the Cole Hamels situation with the Phillies” but according to one of his sources “there’s no sense of urgency to get a deal done soon for the lefty starter.”
The Red Sox and Phillies have talked about a deal for Hamels and it’s believed multiple packages have been discussed that included only prospects and different combinations of Major and Minor League players. Reports have suggested Shane Victorino and/or Allen Craig could have been in the conversations at one point.
Sean McAdam also indicated that by adding INF Yoan Moncada to the system, Boston could make OF Manuel Margot or 3B Rafael Devers available in a deal for Hamels. But Ben Cherington’s stance on including either Betts or Swihart did not change when Moncada agreed to terms.
The noise keeps getting louder the Cubs could eventually pull off a trade for Cole Hamels. The Cubs, like the Red Sox, Dodgers and Cardinals, have the players in the organization to satisfy Ruben Amaro Jr. But Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are not going to deplete the system that took three long years to build to acquire one player.
The front office is believed to have a package of prospects in mind they would deal for Cole Hamels. Multiple reports have indicated that Epstein and Hoyer would not include Kris Bryant or Addison Russell or Jorge Soler in a trade for Hamels.
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs “believe they have filled their reservoir of young talent to acquire a top-notch pitcher without putting a major dent in their farm system.” The Cubs have to make sure they do a good job of self-scouting in order to identify the players they should keep and the ones that should be used to acquire talent from outside the organization.
Mark Gonzales spoke to Theo Epstein about evaluating the players in the Cubs system. Epstein used the Braves as the example of an organization that “almost created a dynasty out of evaluating their own players the right way.” The Braves seldom traded a player that worked out for the other team while Atlanta won a lot of pennants with the players they kept.
Gonzales reported he spoke with “several scouts” that indicated “the Cubs have a surplus of high end middle infielders … which might be key to any deal … as well as very young talented minor league pitchers and potentially top-of-the-order outfielders.”
Some within the game are still of the opinion Hamels will be dealt before Opening Day and others think Amaro Jr. will hold onto Hamels until the trade deadline.
While there are other teams in the mix, if Ruben Amaro Jr. decides he’s ready to let go of Hamels and backs off his demands, it could come down to another competition between the Cubs and Red Sox for a left-handed starter.