MLB Trade Rumors: 7 Contenders with the Chips to Make Cole Hamels Blockbuster
We're used to seeing the Philadelphia Phillies bringing big-name players in at the trade deadline, not shipping them out.
It sounds like that could change this season. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported over the weekend, the Phillies have started to take calls on ace lefty Cole Hamels, a free-agent-to-be who is 10-4 with a 3.08 ERA through 16 starts this season.
It's unclear how serious the Phillies are about dealing Hamels. While it's possible that a trade could be imminent, it's highly unlikely that Hamels will be traded before the July 31 deadline.
The Phillies still have time to creep back into contention in the NL East, so it stands to reason that GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., is just getting the lay of the land by fielding calls.
It also stands to reason he's already come across numerous interested parties. Every team in the league would love to have a lefty like Hamels around, and more teams than usual have incentive to deal for him now that there's an extra wild-card berth to be had in each league.
Ah yes, but which teams actually have the assets to make a deal for him?
Heyman says the Phillies would want "at least three good young pieces" for Hamels in a trade, and not every contender can make a deal like that.
Here are seven that can.
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson (L) and GM Kevin Towers (R).
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
It has been confirmed that young righty Daniel Hudson is going to need Tommy John surgery, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, but the news on the injury front isn't all bad for the Diamondbacks.
According to a report from The Arizona Republic, the D-Backs could get lefty Joe Saunders back off the DL in the very near future. General manager Kevin Towers said Saunders is feeling "great."
The D-Backs also have young righty Trevor Bauer in their starting rotation for the time being, and Towers has said that he feels that the team has more than enough pitching depth. That's something other GMs would love to be able to say.
However, while the Diamondbacks certainly have depth, one thing they're missing this season is a true ace.
Ian Kennedy hasn't been as good this year as he was in 2011, Trevor Cahill has been merely decent, and Wade Miley only has 20 career starts under his belt.
The D-Backs have quietly been making their move in the NL West over the last couple weeks, but they're going to need a little something extra in order to secure a postseason berth. There are so many teams in contention around the National League.
Acquiring Hamels would do the trick, and the D-Backs have plenty of young pitching to offer the Phillies in return for him. Bauer is probably off-limits, but a package based around Tyler Skaggs and/or Archie Bradley would be very enticing for the Phillies.
Dealing for Hamels would be a bold, all-in play by Towers, and he's only going to do it if he thinks Hamels is a missing link on a club that is otherwise strong enough to go all the way.
And that's what makes this idea less far-fetched than you may think. Towers recently told ESPN's Jayson Stark that he likes this year's team better than he liked last year's NL West-winning club. If he thinks Hamels will put them over the top, Towers will at least consider him.
Boston Red Sox
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington.
I've already written that the Red Sox should refrain from making big moves until the offseason, but GM Ben Cherington certainly has pieces to play with if he does feel like making a big move.
Though they don't have a ton of talent at the upper levels, the Red Sox do have a very deep farm system with lower-level talented players that they could dangle in a trade for Hamels.
If the Phillies don't mind waiting, they could do business with the Red Sox.
If they'd rather not wait, they could still do business with the Red Sox. They're going to have a ton of depth once their injured players come back healthy, and they could consider dealing young players like Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, Lars Anderson or Ryan Lavarnway for Hamels.
It all depends on how far Cherington thinks this team can go, and that's the tricky part. The playoffs are a realistic possibility, but making it to the World Series is a lot to task of this Red Sox team, which has been dealing with injuries, underperforming players and an excess of drama all season.
The situation will play itself out in the next couple weeks, when the Red Sox are due to get Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Clay Buchholz back off the DL. If the Red Sox catch fire and start challenging the Yankees for first place in the AL East, that's when Cherington could start thinking about aggressively preparing his team for a run at the World Series.
The Red Sox should be considered an unlikely trade partner, but they can't be counted out of the discussion of the teams that could make a deal for Hamels.
New York Yankees
Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
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Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently made headlines when he told the New York Daily News that he wasn't looking to do anything significant at the trade deadline.
However, this was before both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were placed on the disabled list.
Indications are that Sabathia's injury won't keep him out for an extended period of time, but Pettitte's will. He's already been placed on the 60-day DL, meaning he won't return until late August at the earliest.
The word from Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is that Cashman will make a deal if no in-house options step up to fill Pettitte's shoes, and the list of guys they could be interested in includes Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and even Zack Greinke.
If Greinke is in play, then Hamels must also be considered in play for the Yankees. Both of them are aces and would similarly require an impressive collection of prospects in a trade.
Cafardo noted that the Yankees do have "the young chips to satisfy any team," and he's right about that. Though they have their issues, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances both have trade value, and the Yankees also have an elite catching prospect that they can dangle in Gary Sanchez.
The question is not whether the Yankees can make the playoffs without Pettitte in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future. There should be no question that they can.
The question is whether the Yankees can get back to the World Series without making any big changes to their roster, and that's where things get dicey. They're a good team, but the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels stand out as two teams that could give them problems.
Adding an ace like Hamels would put the Yankees over the top. Being able to line up Hamels and Sabathia to pitch in a short postseason series would border on unfair.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington.
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Now here's an interesting idea.
...One that, admittedly, does not come from me.
The idea of the Pirates making a deal for Hamels comes directly from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, who thinks the Bucs should pull off a "franchise-altering" move by dealing for either Hamels or Zack Greinke.
It's not an entirely absurd suggestion, as the Pirates enter this week a game back in the NL Central, and they have enough pitching depth to stay in the race down the stretch. If they decide to go for it—Rosenthal thinks they should—Hamels would very much help their cause.
And yes, the Pirates do have the pieces to execute a trade for Hamels. They have one of the best farm systems in baseball, with several top-tier pitchers (i.e. Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon) they could offer the Phillies in exchange for Hamels.
The Pirates would still lack offense even if they did pull off a trade for Hamels, and the deal would go down as one of the biggest blunders in baseball history if the Pirates were to fail to make the playoffs. The Pirates are trying to build a winner from within, after all, and they'd be sacrificing that plan if they were to trade for Hamels.
However, a team can go far with good pitching and little offense. Just look at the 2010 San Francisco Giants.
I can't say I would want to make an all-in deal for Hamels or Greinke if I were Pirates GM Neal Huntington, but Rosenthal does have a point when he says it's past time for the Pirates to do something drastic.
St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak.
Jeff Curry/Getty Images
Although Chris Carpenter has yet to throw a single pitch this season, the Cardinals' starting pitching has done pretty well in 2012. Cardinals starters have a record of 34-24 and an ERA of 3.84.
Nonetheless, the word from Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com is that GM John Mozeliak is looking for a rotation upgrade, and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently pointed out that Mozeliak isn't one to shy away from making "The Big Deal."
Zack Greinke is off-limits for the Cardinals, as surely they'd rather not send a bunch of young prospects to division foe. That makes Hamels the far more likely trade target for the Cardinals if Mozeliak decides to go for broke with a big trade.
Mozeliak has more than enough prospects with which to part. Before the start of the season, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked St. Louis' farm system as the third best in baseball, and ESPN's Keith Law ranked it as the fourth best.
Not bad for a team that just won the World Series last year. That's a testament to how well St. Louis' front office operates.
The Cardinals have the pieces to make a deal for Hamels, and they certainly have enough incentive. They're sitting in third place in the NL Central at the moment, 2.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cardinals could stick with what they have and be content with making a run at a wild-card spot, but that would be risky given the team's recent up-and-down nature and the amount of contenders across the NL.
Acquiring Hamels would give the Cardinals the ace they've lacked this season. He's a guy who would very much come in handy if the Cardinals were to make the postseason.
And who knows? The Cardinals could even convince Hamels to re-sign. They did it with Scott Rolen and Matt Holliday, after all.
Rangers owner and CEO Nolan Ryan.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
The Texas Rangers are in a position where they really don't have to make a big deal to be ready for October baseball. They have several key players on the disabled list at the moment, and they can simply wait for them to get healthy instead of working the phones at the trade deadline.
However, the Rangers made it clear when they signed Roy Oswalt that they're willing to do whatever it takes to get back to and win the World Series, and the rumor mill suggests that they may not stop there.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Rangers have scouted both Greinke and Hamels as potential trade candidates. And just like the Cardinals, the Rangers are a very good team with a lot of very good prospects that they can deal.
Morosi wrote that the Phillies would probably ask for third base prospect Mike Olt. The Rangers would apparently be "very reluctant" to part with him, but they also know full well that Olt's path to big leagues is blocked by Adrian Beltre, who is signed for a few more seasons.
The Rangers also have to know that their starting rotation could use a true ace—one in the prime of his career (unlike Oswalt). Hamels could therefore be the 2012 version of Cliff Lee, who the Rangers got in a July trade back in 2010.
For Texas, it's not about getting back to the World Series. It's about winning it.
Hamels could help them do that, and he's a very realistic target.
Toronto Blue Jays
Brandon Morrow is just one of several starting pitchers the Blue Jays have had to place on the DL.
Brad White/Getty Images
The Blue Jays have taken up residence in the cellar of the AL East, and they're going to have a hard time climbing out of it while they have so many quality arms on the disabled list.
However, the Jays are hanging tough at 40-39, and the word from Rosenthal and Morosi is that they haven't given up. They want pitching help, and they've supposedly scouted by Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Garza.
We also know that GM Alex Anthopoulos has already called the Phillies about Hamels. Rosenthal reported that story back in May.
Anthopoulos apparently checks in on every player who might be available, but he could get more serious about Hamels in the next couple of weeks. He knows that his team desperately needs an ace starting pitcher, and he also knows that he's sitting on one of baseball's best farm systems.
Toronto's system is loaded. They have a lot of pitching to offer the Phillies, and they could also be talked into parting with Jake Marisnick and/or Anthony Gose. The only guy who's probably untouchable is Travis d'Arnaud, who the Blue Jays got in the Roy Halladay trade back in 2010.
It's up to Anthopoulos to decide whether it's worth it to go for it this year, or if he's better off playing it safe by waiting until next year.
One thing's for sure: The Blue Jays aren't making the postseason this year unless they do something drastic.
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