Cole Hamels Trade Rumors: Who of His 7 Major Suitors Is the Best Fit?
On Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels threw a gem in Denver, limiting the Colorado Rockies to one run on six hits in eight stellar innings of work and giving the Phillies a 5-1 victory.
For the year, Hamels is now 11-4 with a 3.07 ERA.
What was more telling about Hamels' afternoon was that scouts from seven teams were in attendance, and, presumably, they weren't there to take in the gorgeous surroundings at Coors Field.
The Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels were all represented and were there specifically to see Hamels.
So, of the seven teams, which is the best fit for Hamels?
Let's take a look.
7. Miami Marlins
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Trading within the division has never been the optimal choice in terms of trades between teams.
The Miami Marlins could absolutely use an impact starting pitcher at the top of their rotation. Every starter with the exception of Mark Buehrle currently has an ERA above 4.00. Josh Johnson has pitched better of late after a tough start, but Ricky Nolasco and Carlos Zambrano have seen bouts of inconsistency throughout the season.
The Marlins also don't have a huge pool of prospects in their farm system that they'd be willing to part with, so unless they package a deal that includes major leaguers, they may not be in a position to offer a deal that's tempting to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
In addition, with current salary obligations to Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Hanley Ramirez, owner Jeffrey Loria may be loathe to pony up the expected $125-150 million it will take to sign Hamels long-term.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Personally, I would love to see Hamels in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.
Think of the storylines—Hamels helps deliver a division title to a team that hasn't won anything since 1992. Hamels helps the Pirates end the longest North American professional franchise losing streak in history. Hamels rules another part of Pennsylvania, and so on and so on.
However, let's get back to reality.
There's no question the Pirates could put together an attractive package for the Philadelphia Phillies. Because of their draft position over the years, they have stockpiled a bevy of picks, especially in recent years, that would be attractive to Ruben Amaro Jr.
But paying Hamels is another story. The Pirates might be the least likely team on this list to be able to afford Hamels and his expected $125-150 million payday. At best, Hamels would be a two-month rental for Pittsburgh.
5. Los Angeles Angels
Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Angels are currently five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and they're doing it with two quality starters and three or four others who have largely struggled.
Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are a combined 20-6—the rest of the starting rotation is 19-24.
Without question, adding Hamels would give the Angels a trio of starters that would automatically be considered one of the most formidable in the majors.
However, the Angels' payroll is already at $151 million, and that's with first baseman Albert Pujols on the low end of a contract that escalates with each passing year.
About the only way to get this deal done for the Angels is to somehow remove the salary of currently disabled outfielder Vernon Wells. Right fielder Torii Hunter will come off the books next season, freeing up $18 million. Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have option years coming up that total $28.5 million, and Wells is due roughly $51 million through the 2014 season.
If GM Jerry DiPoto can somehow work some magic in unloading significant money, the deal works. Throwing in center fielder Peter Bourjos might also work, but thus far the Angels have been hesitant in considering to move him, especially if Hunter leaves next season.
Hamels in Anaheim could absolutely work, but DiPoto will have to do some serious work payroll-wise to make it happen.
4. Detroit Tigers
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
All season long, the Detroit Tigers have been sputtering, trying to find their way after adding free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
Now, the Tigers are starting to put things together and are just 3.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
Adding Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels would give the Tigers a righty-lefty combination at the top of their rotation that would indeed be scary.
However, the Tigers' rotation has performed much better in recent weeks beyond just Justin Verlander.
Both Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have picked up steam after rocky starts, Drew Smyly seems to have taken a stranglehold on the final spot in the rotation, and Doug Fister is working his way back to full health after an injury-filled first half.
The Tigers may be more interested in adding offense, especially given the anemic production provided thus far by their second basemen.
The money and the prospects are there, but the Tigers have a rotation that's under contractual control through at least the next two years and have Jacob Turner waiting in the wings as well.
While Hamels would certainly slot nicely into their rotation, the Tigers may just be better off looking to add offense and think about adding pitching this offseason.
3. Texas Rangers
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
The Texas Rangers have committed some serious money to get to where they currently sit, and they appear to be ready to commit even more to get to their ultimate goal.
After falling short the past two years in the World Series, the Rangers appear primed to get there once again, so it's no surprise that they had scouts in Denver on Sunday afternoon watching Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels.
Last week, ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney tweeted that the Rangers are considered the favorites to land Hamels if he is not re-signed by Philadelphia.
In addition, the Rangers can put together an attractive package of current major leaguers and prospects, but don't expect Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar to be involved in that package.
2. San Francisco Giants
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Given the struggles of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, it makes sense that the San Francisco Giants would have scouts in Denver watching Cole Hamels.
The Giants are in a dogfight at the top of the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the additions of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan have helped stabilize an offense that heavily relied on its pitching staff for the past two seasons.
Lincecum's struggles change the landscape in the Bay Area.
GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy have been patient in waiting for Lincecum to work through his issues (3-10, 5.93 ERA), but at some point that patience will wear out and the Giants will need to come up with an alternate plan.
Sabean does have some prospects that would be attractive to the Phillies (Heath Hembree, Eric Surkamp, Kyle Crick), but after losing top prospect Zack Wheeler last season in the Carlos Beltran deal, he will be loathe to further drain the cupboard of top-tier pitchers.
Nonetheless, the Giants could very well be the sleeper team in this list of suitors.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been one of the favorites to land Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, and that hasn't changed.
In fact, they may be even more aggressive now, given the recent injury concerns of current starter Chad Billingsley.
General manager Ned Colletti has an infusion of cash that hasn't been available for years with new ownership, and the new management team would absolutely love to establish themselves as winners as quickly as possible.
Adding Hamels would show the fanbase that the Dodgers are indeed prepared to re-establish the franchise as one of the elites once again.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.