As the Philadelphia Phillies begin the second half of the regular season, the team’s record of 57-35 puts them 10 games up in first place in the National League East. Now, as the trade deadline approaches, the Phils are scanning the trade market for that one final piece to add to their World Series chances…
…wait, that’s not right. That’s how this season was supposed to go.
Instead, the Phillies have remained in last place in the NL East for much of this season and have yet to make a serious run in the wild-card standings.
And to add to the season’s list of woes, the Phils are coming up on a dangerous combination: Cole Hamels has yet to sign a long-term extension, and the trade deadline is less than two weeks away.
Speculation involving Hamels has ranged from reports that the Phillies are asking for four to five prospects in return in a trade, to news that the team is preparing to make their All-Star a long-term contract offer.
Just in case the Phils do decide to make a deal, I contacted featured columnists on Bleacher Report in order to get a look at the potential blockbuster deals involving Hamels at the trade deadline.
Angels acquire: Cole Hamels
Phillies acquire: SS Jean Segura, SP Jerome Williams
Angels FC Doug Mead’s perspective:
Segura was the No. 55 ranked prospect in baseball according to Baseball America during the preseason. However, his path to the Angels may be blocked by both Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, both of whom are locked up through at least the 2015 season.
Angels GM Jerry DiPoto will be loathe to give up too much for Hamels, especially with the new CBA in place, which calls for no compensation if the Angels are unable to lock Hamels up long-term.
Segura would arguably become the best infielder in the Phillies minor league system. In 89 games at Double-A this season, Segura is batting .290 with seven home runs, 37 RBI and 32 stolen bases. The 22-year-old recently had a strong showing at the Futures Game while starting at second base, despite primarily playing shortstop this season.
This versatility could make him very appealing to the Phils, especially since he’s already at the Double-A level. With Chase Utley’s contract up after next season, Segura’s progression to becoming major league ready would be something to watch.
As far as current major league talent, I don’t see the Phillies asking for Williams. According to a tweet by Jon Morosi, center fielder Peter Bourjos could interest the Phils in any dealings with the Angels. A deal featuring Segura, Bourjos and an additional minor league arm could be intriguing, but for a team such as the Angels, the Phils may ask for more.
If the Angels think they can sign Hamels long-term, they would likely be willing to offer a fourth player. However, with Hamels being from the West Coast, the Phillies would be foolish to willingly send him there via trade for an additional two months if they hope to have a good chance at signing him away in the offseason.
Chances this deal gets done
A deal featuring Segura and Williams is not likely. But if the Phils decide to trade Hamels for future pieces, a deal that includes Segura, Bourjos and an additional minor league arm or two makes sense.
The Red Sox are on CBS Sports' Jon Heyman's list of potential Hamels suitors. Here's who the Phillies could get in exchange:
Red Sox acquire: Cole Hamels
Phillies acquire: OF Daniel Nava, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, SS Jose Iglesias, C Blake Swihart
Red Sox FC Douglas Sibor’s perspective:
The Boston Red Sox have a huge problem: They’re paying “ace” money to Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey, but none of these pitchers is actually a bona-fide front-of-the-rotation stopper. Hamels solves that problem both now and going forward.
Because of the left-hander’s impending free agency, the Sox would likely need to have a contract extension in place in order to consummate this deal. However, if they can secure Hamels’ services for many years to come, it would be worth the hefty price tag.
Nava, while a great story, is expendable given the wealth of talented outfield prospects the Sox have in addition to the players already entrenched on the big league roster. Ranaudo has a great arm but has struggled with a forearm injury and ineffectiveness this year. Iglesias and Swihart are big time talents, but the Sox have more highly regarded prospects at the same positions.
Ultimately, the steep price is worth it if the Sox can acquire the ace pitcher they have so sorely lacked in recent seasons.
This would be a generous offer for Hamels, as far as the number of prospects and their potential. But the deal would need some adjustments in order for the Phillies to choose it as their best option.
However, this deal does touch on areas that the Phillies would ideally like to hit on if they trade Hamels.
Nava is an affordable outfielder who has posted average numbers in limited playing time this season, and he's also a left fielder, a position of need for the Phillies long-term. Nava would add depth to the outfield, but he is not the long-term answer.
Ranaudo’s injury could scare off the Phils, although a pitching prospect that can move through the minors quickly would be intriguing.
If Iglesias, who is batting .255 at Triple-A, were to be swapped with Xander Bogaerts, the Phillies' interest could be enhanced. And with Sebastian Valle in the fold, catcher is not likely a position that the Phils would target.
As Corey Seidman recently wrote on CSNPhilly.com, outfielder Bryce Brentz could be the player the Phillies ask for in a deal with the Red Sox. Even though he's a rental, the Phillies will ask for at least one elite ranking prospect in return for Hamels.
Boston is sitting far back in the AL East race, but is right in the thick of things in the wild card standings. With a starting rotation whose 4.71 ERA ranks as the fourth lowest in the AL, Hamels would greatly increase the Red Sox's chances of sealing a playoff spot.
Chances this deal gets done
Not likely. Although these four players play positions that the Phillies could target, the team would likely ask for players who are both close to being ready for the major leagues, and who have provided a bit more consistency during their minor league career.
Rangers acquire: Cole Hamels
Phillies acquire: 3B Mike Olt, OF Leonys Martin, OF Engel Beltre, RHP Neil Ramirez
Rangers FC Lance Reaves’ perspective:
Mike Olt is the obvious piece who will almost certainly have to be included if a deal were made. Olt, one of the Rangers’ top prospects, is a power-hitting third baseman whose path to the majors is blocked by Adrian Beltre.
Center fielder Leonys Martin is the most major league ready prospect for Texas. Another player that might be included is Engel Beltre, a 22-year-old outfielder with a big upside if he turns things around.
As far as starting pitching goes, the Rangers would probably be willing to part with young righty Neil Ramirez. I would be very surprised if Texas is ready to trade the organization’s best prospects, Jurickson Profar or Martin Perez, so without one of those two it will be interesting to see if these teams can get a deal done.
We might have a winner.
The Rangers are in an interesting position when it comes to trading for Hamels. For one, the team has made two consecutive World Series appearances but has not won either. Secondly, their division rival is also interested in acquiring Hamels.
Olt would likely become the Phillies' best infield prospect and third baseman of the future, especially with Placido Polanco having a mutual option coming up in his contract.
Martin has already reached the major leagues after batting .344 in the minors this season. Ramirez has struggled this season but went 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA and 119 strikeouts last season in the minors, while holding opponents to a .215 batting average.
By being able to keep Profar and Perez, the Rangers may be willing to give up prospects such as Olt and Martin if they feel that Hamels is their missing World Series piece. Even if he is just a rental, the opportunity could be too tempting, especially if the Angels step up their efforts.
Chances this deal gets done
This deal has the best chance of enticing the Phils enough to trade Hamels before the deadline.
Dodgers acquire: Cole Hamels
Phillies acquire: A combination of three players from RHP Zach Lee, 1B/OF Jerry Sands, OF Joc Pederson/LHP Chris Reed, RHP Nathan Eovaldi
Dodgers FC Geoffrey Ratliff’s perspective:
Hamels clearly wants to get paid, but winning is also very important to him. With their new ownership group in place and a team that has already shown that they are close to being a World Series contender, the San Diego native could find a return to Southern California to good to pass up, much like 2011’s prize free-agent pitcher C. J. Wilson.
The Dodgers' minor league system is not very deep with major talent, but it’s possible that a deal that centered around top pitching prospect Zach Lee, current rotation fill-in Nathan Eovaldi and another prospect or two may be enough to lure the 28-year-old Hamels away from Philly."
As Geoffrey mentioned to me, the Dodgers would only deal for Hamels if they believed they had a good chance to sign him to a long-term deal.
This gives the Dodgers an interesting scenario when it comes to Hamels. If they think they can sign him long-term, would that mean they are willing to part with Pederson, an outfielder who is batting .296 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in the low minors?
Geoffrey also noted to me the team’s recent signing of Yaisel Puig, which could play a factor in their decision on Pederson. As far as pitchers, would the left-hander Reed, whom the Dodgers have turned into a starter, be included in a deal with Lee?
The Dodgers may also feel like they have a great chance of signing Hamels in the offseason even if he’s not traded at the deadline. Would the team view giving up more prospects in exchange for Hamels as a more solid move for the future?
I think the Phillies would be foolish to trade Hamels to Los Angeles if they want a chance at signing him in the offseason. And a deal involving prospects a ways off from being ready for the major leagues could further dissuade them.
Chances this deal gets done
Lee is intriguing, but these prospects aren’t quite the major league-ready type that the Phillies should be targeting, which makes this deal unlikely.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says the Yankees are interested in Hamels, though they wouldn't be willing to overpay. Here's what they might offer:
Yankees acquire: Cole Hamels
Phillies acquire: RHP Dellin Betances, C Francisco Cervelli, OF Mason Williams, SS Jose Pirela
Yankees FC Joe Acampado’s perspective:
Betances is gonna be the guy the Phillies want the most. He’s projected to be an elite starter and should help the Phillies’ rotation in the future. The Phillies might get too daring and ask about Ivan Nova. If that happens, Cashman should hang up immediately.
The rest of the guys would give the Phillies some depth at their respective positions. Cervelli is major league-ready and could fill in for the free-agent-to-be Carlos Ruiz.
Williams is heading towards a great future as an outfielder. I’d rather see him stick around, but he’s a guy the Phillies are going to ask about.
Pirela serves as the throw in, but he’s batting .322/.390/.503 in Double A despite needing a true position. He’s at second base for now.
The Yankees are pretty set at starting pitching so I don’t expect them to go after Cole Hamels hard. Instead, I’d rather see them pursue that Justin Upton rumor.
FC Kenny DeJohn’s Perspective
For the New York Yankees to acquire Cole Hamels, there's no doubt that they'd have to give up some quality talent to get him. Mason Williams would be the highlight of any potential deal, as he is arguably the Yankees' top position player prospect outside of catcher Gary Sanchez.
Tyler Austin has been raking thus far in Single-A ball, and the Philadelphia Phillies' glaring need for a third baseman could cause them to have interest in his services.
Dellin Betances and Adam Warren have the potential to help the Phillies as early as this season. Betances profiles as more of a reliever, while Warren looks to be more of a back-end starter.
J.R. Murphy, one of the Yankees' triad of catching prospects (Sanchez, Austin Romine), could be an attractive piece. Carlos Ruiz is having a breakout season, and it may be difficult to retain him long-term.
In the end, it'll be difficult for the Yankees to get Hamels. It could happen, though—with the right prospects.
Both featured columnists make a great point, in that it will be difficult for the Yankees to acquire Hamels. The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and may not feel a need to go after Hamels, especially as a rental.
Betances is an intriguing prospect, but his 6.39 ERA at Triple-A could scare off the Phils. Williams would be a great outfield addition to the Phillies minor league system, but it will still be some time before he is major league-ready.
I don’t believe catcher is a position they will target in a trade with Valle in Double-A, and Gabriel Lino in the system following Jim Thome’s trade to the Baltimore Orioles. Warren is the type of player the Phillies could look for in a deal, but he would not be the center piece.
Barring another injury, I don’t believe the Yankees will be willing to offer too much for Hamels.
Chance this deal gets done
While a combination of these prospects would fit the areas the Phillies could target in a trade of Hamels, it’s unlikely that there’s enough motivation on the Yankees' side to give up too much to get a deal done.