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Why the Los Angeles Dodgers Are the Best Team for Cole Hamels

Dan Servodidio@@dan_servodidioFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2015

Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels in action during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

It's only fitting that a player whom his teammates call "Hollywood" will wind up in Los Angeles. 

Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies' ace pitcher and one of the biggest names on the trade market, is a near-lock to be moved by MLB's July 31 trade deadline. The only question is where the former World Series MVP will finish his season. 

The Dodgers represent the best possible marriage: Hamels, a Southern California native, and a first-place club. 

Already armed with a rotation featuring two former Cy Young Award winners in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Los Angeles is reportedly seeking starting pitching depth for the latter part of this season. 

Hamels' 3.02 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 113.1 innings pitched this year look mighty attractive compared to what the Dodgers have dealt with. 

Outside of Kershaw and Greinke, the the team's starting rotation has been a trainwreck. Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy both suffered season-ending injuries and their replacements haven't been much better. Second-year man Mike Bolsinger owns a 4.79 ERA over his last five starts, and Carlos Frias had a 5.40 ERA in his eight previous outings before hitting the disabled list himself. 

ESPN.com's Anthony Witrado offered some insight into the Dodgers' rotation woes: 

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are presumably active on the pitching trade market, but until they pull the trigger on their first in-season blockbuster move, the Dodgers have to solve their back-end rotation problems.

That could mean Brandon Beachy, coming off two Tommy John surgeries, is brought into the fold. 

When your answer is a guy who hasn't pitched in an MLB game since 2013, you might have a problem. 

Enter Hamels, a quick-fix solution for Los Angeles—a franchise five games up on the defending champion San Francisco Giants and looking to win the tough National League West for a third-straight year. 

Coincidentally, Hamels, who's played the entirety of his 10-year career in Philadelphia, openly wants to pitch for a contender in the future, via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:

"I just want to win,'' Hamels told USA TODAY Sports in his first interview since the end of the 2014 season. "That's all. That's all any competitor wants.

"And I know it's not going to happen here.

"This isn't what I expected. It's not what the Phillies expected, either.

"But it's reality.''

Jun 19, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) watches from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. The St. Louis Cardinals won 12-4. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Hamels' 5-6 record through 17 starts is evidence to that. The Phillies' offense has failed to score in eight of those outings. 

In fact, Philadelphia gives its best starting pitcher the worst run support—2.39 runs per start—among all 96 qualified starters in the entire MLB this season. 

It's no wonder Hamels wants out, especially after team president Pat Gillick recently admitted the franchise will be in rebuilding mode until at least 2018. 

Los Angeles, meanwhile, provides more than enough run support for its starters. In 2015, its offense ranks fourth in the NL in runs scored (355), first in home runs (106) and first in wins above replacement (16.7). 

The expensive value of Hamels' current contract, though, remains one of the biggest issues for Philadelphia in moving the three-time All-Star. 

Earning $23.5 million this season, the left-hander is owed $67.5 million more over the following three years with a club option of an additional $20 million in 2019.

Although the Phillies are open to eating most of Hamels' remaining salary, according to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, the Dodgers can easily cover the balance when compared to other franchises. 

The team entered this season with the league's highest payroll at over $272 million, making them no stranger to spending in order to improve their roster. 

After dishing out expensive contracts in the past to Kershaw, Greinke, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, it's reasonable to suggest the Dodgers are more than willing to pay the price for another star.  

Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies' franchise hit-leader who was traded to the Dodgers in December, recently spoke about a possible reunion with Hamels in Los Angeles, via CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury

“That would be nice,” he said. “That would be nice. Cole would be close to home. We know what type of pitcher he is, especially in big games. He wants those games. You have two big-game pitchers that are already here, so that would be three, and that's one heck of a combination."

Of course there are other possible destinations for Hamels, including Texas, Chicago, Houston, Toronto and New York among others. 

However, these clubs—all contenders in their own right—aren't as good a fit as Los Angeles for a pitcher desperate to leave town. 

Either way, Hamels Watch 2015 is in full effect this month as the baseball world waits for Philadelphia's impending deal. 

Dan is a featured writer for B/R's Advanced Program in Sports Media. You can follow him @dan_servodidio. He also thinks Hamels should have been traded years ago. 

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