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January 09, 2015

Report: Cardinals exploring trade for Cole Hamels

As the Phillies continue their rebuild, one of the team's best trade chips, Cole Hamels, remains in Philadelphia.

That's not because general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to keep 31-year-old lefty in his rotation, but rather a combination of his high salary, a high asking price, and a no-trade clause that allows Hamels to block trades to all but nine teams.

Many of the rumors surrounding him so far have involved the Red Sox, but with free agent Max Scherzer, Hamels is not the only option for teams looking to spend some money to bolster their pitching staff.

According to a report by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in Hamels, Scherzer and, tangentially, David Price.

Price, who is currently under contract with the Tigers after being acquired from the Rays last season, will be a free agent after this season and could be moved if Detroit wants to free up some payroll to sign Scherzer.

According to Rosenthal and Morosi, the Cardinals are most interested in adding a lefty, but that would involve parting ways with some prospects, while signing Scherzer would be only a financial* hit.

*Sources are telling FOX Sports that Scherzer, who is represented by Scott Boras, will be seeking a deal worth north of $200 million.

That's where it gets tricky, they say:

The Phillies want premium talent for Hamels, who is owed $90 million over the next four years. Teams usually balk at trading top prospects while taking on expensive contracts. The good news for the Cardinals is that they could acquire Hamels without his permission; they are not on his no-trade list.

If anything, Hamels would welcome a deal to St. Louis, sources say. His wife, Heidi, is from the St. Louis area, and all of her family lives in Missouri, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

The Cardinals’ biggest problem, perhaps, would be satisfying the Phillies.

To secure Hamels, the Cardinals likely would need to part with Martinez or Gonzales as well as an outfielder such as Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty (the Phillies have long coveted Peter Bourjos as well, sources say).

Such a price could be prohibitive. [via]

While a deal is not imminent, it seems there is more than one team now interested in Hamels.

That means Amaro can maintain his slightly higher asking price, because if Scherzer signs somewhere unexpected, other teams looking to a pitching upgrade will be left scrambling.