June 23, 2015
Wednesday's start in the Bronx may be an audition of sorts for Cole Hamels, one that could end with the 31-year-old lefty trading in his red pinstripes for blue ones.
After missing his last start with a mild hamstring strain, Hamels is scheduled to take the hill when the Phillies wrap up their series with the Yankees. How he pitches could have an impact on not just the game -- wins and losses don't matter much at this point anyway -- but on the future of the Phillies organization as well.
Hamels' name has been linked to many teams -- Red Sox, Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers, Orioles and Rangers to name a few -- but perhaps the best chance general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has at trading his most-valuable asset involves the team from which he once stole another lefty ace, Cliff Lee, five years ago.
On Monday, Kevin Kernan of The New York Post wrote that the Yankees need to make a deal for Hamels "no matter the cost." And since it's been reported elsewhere that Amaro's asking price for the former World Series MVP is borderline absurd, that has to be music to Phillies fans' ears.
More from Kernan:
Left-hander Cole Hamels is the perfect addition for the Yankees, and they should do whatever it takes to land the ace. Their need is great and has never been more evident than the last two games when their alleged aces were blasted.
Starter Michael Pineda was dreadful Monday night in an embarrassing 11-8 loss to the Phillies, a day after Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up by the Tigers. [nypost.com]
The first hurdle the teams must clear, before even discussing prospects, is Hamels' no-trade clause. But prior to the season, he made it clear that he would be willing to waive that in order to pitch for a contender, because he's reached "the point in his career where he desperately wants to get back to the big stage of October baseball."
"The opportunity to play for a team that could ultimately get to the World Series is what every guy hopes for and what every guy works for, starting with the offseason and spring training," Hamels said during this spring.
Hamels went on to say that he is in the prime of his career, and to spend those years on perennial bottom-dweller would be counter-intuitive. Not only would it be bad for him personally, but it would make no sense for the Phillies to pay him all that money when there's no realistic expectations of contending.
If Hamels is willing to waive his no-trade clause, the next hurdle -- the biggest hurdle -- is working out a deal both sides can agree on.
It would seem that the Phillies have some of the leverage here, because they have several other teams interested in acquiring the lefty's services, even if those other options are less than ideal in terms of return value.
The Yankees have options as well. Sure, Hamels is the best of what's out there, but the Yanks could deal for someone like Johnny Cueto of the Reds. It would cost less, but they would be dealing for a lesser pitcher.
If the price is right -- and that's a big IF this time of year -- it seems like these two are a match made in trade deadline heaven. The Phillies are looking to get younger and unload a hefty contract (one that runs through 2018). Meanwhile, the Yankees are looking to win this year, have the right prospects, and don't really need to worry about the financial implications.
So what does Kernan think the Phillies could fetch in return?
The Yankees have top-end prospects who intrigue the Phillies, including outfielder Aaron Judge and pitcher Luis Severino. The Yankees will have to weigh the future against the present and it looks as if Severino is not going anywhere — but in Hamels they would be acquiring a sure thing.
Whether or not the Phillies and Yankees can get something done before the July 31 trade deadline remains to be seen, but there's little reason to believe Hamels will be pitching with the team come August 1. If not the Yankees, then maybe somewhere in Texas or out West.
A lot may depend on how impressive Hamels is in his next start.
He's never beaten the Yankees in his nine-year career with the Phillies and his last start in Yankees Stadium was one he'd likely rather forget. It came in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, when Hamels allowed five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings of work en route to picking up the loss.
He'll look to change that Wednesday, and if successful, it could be the first step towards a uniform change as well.
TEXAS RANGERS -- According to Jon Morosi of FOXSports, there has been an "ongoing dialogue" between the Phillies and Rangers involving Hamels and that the pitcher is willing to waive his no-trade clause to go there.
#Rangers expect to have Perez, Harrison, and Holland back in rotation this season, but they view Hamels as elite upgrade worth pursuing.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 23, 2015
HOUSTON ASTROS -- Per KHOU in Houston, Hamels is not willing to accept a trade to the Astros:
According to a source close to the situation, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels would block any possible trade to the Houston Astros if the teams were to strike a deal before the trade deadline.
However the source tells KHOU 11 Sports that Hamels is open to accepting a trade to either the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees. [khou.com]
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