Mid-Season Trade Candidates—Cole Hamels

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Name: Cole Hamels

Tale of the tape: 28-years-old; bats left; throws left; 6’3; 200 lbs.

Contract status: $9.5 million salary for 2012; free agent at the end of the season.

Would the Phillies trade him?

Earlier in the season, there was no chance they’d deal him. The talk of a mid-season selloff for the Phillies was suggested by websites and “insiders” in the interests of generating webhits. It stemmed from a paucity of other things to write about. Now that’s no longer the case.

The Phillies have played poorly and are still waiting for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to return from injury with no concrete dates for their comebacks and no justifiable expectation of what they’ll provide or that the Phillies will be in contention when they do return.

Roy Halladay is on the disabled list and won’t be back until late July at the earliest.

In recent years the Phillies have been unabashed buyers at the deadline, but their injuries, age, demolished farm system and dwindling hopes to contend are making doubling and tripling down an exponential mistake and will speed their teamwide decline. Are they willing to keep Hamels and hope that he’ll stay as a free agent? Hamels has given no indication that he’ll provide a hometown discount and paying him $140-$160 million isn’t the soundest financial decision for the Phillies. Their payroll is bursting as it is and they have to draw the line somewhere. That somewhere is increasingly looking like it will be Hamels’s contract demands.

It’s unlikely that they trade him, but if they’re hopelessly behind in both the division and the Wild Card, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has to listen.

What would they want for him?

If they’re trading Hamels, they’ll have a hole in their rotation for 2013 and would need a young starter who could—at the very least—slot in behind Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley immediately. They also need a bat that can play third base, second base or centerfield.

Which teams would pursue and have the prospects to get him?

Forget the National League East. The Phillies aren’t trading him within the division no matter what they’re offered. They’d prefer to send him to the American League if they can help it, but would send him to a National League club if their season is lost.

The Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Pirates, Giants and Dodgers could all do it.

Would Hamels sign with the team that trades for him and forego free agency?

At this point, it makes no sense. But if a team comes up with the money and blows the other clubs out of the water as a preemptive financial strike, why not? The Dodgers are a team to watch in this regard because they have a new ownership and will be looking to make a splash, win in 2012 and put a team together that their fans can buy tickets to see for years to come.

What will happen.

I don’t think the Phillies are going to give up on the season under most circumstances. If things really spiral out of control and they’re trailing in both the division and Wild Card by double digits, they have to deal him.

That’s hard to see happening, but it’s possible.

What teams that are interested in Hamels should do (and presumably are doing) is to call Amaro and let him know they want Hamels and he should start thinking—in an act of due diligence—about which prospects he wants in exchange.

A month-and-a-half ago, it was a fantasy to suggest that the Phillies would be deadline sellers. 45 days of uninspiring baseball, the still-awaited returns of Howard and Utley and Halladay’s trip to the disabled list may not have put Hamels on the table, but he’s a specialty item on the menu available for a hefty price and contingent on the environment.

The Phillies’ environment is growing dark.

That dark will put Hamels in play.

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A Halladay Injury Might Make Hamels Available

All Star Game, Ballparks, CBA, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2012 Baseball Guide, Players, Playoffs, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, World Series

Pain in the back of the shoulder sounds pretty bad to me.

Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay left today’s start against the Cardinals with those symptoms and the ominous clouds continue to accrue around the Phillies.

Am I the only one who’s noticed that when a pitcher is seriously injured, he rarely grabs his arm falls to the ground writhing in agony and has to be helped off the field?

This of course is different from the clearly devastating injuries sustained by Joel Zumaya, Tony Saunders, Tom Browning and Dave Dravecky when they broke their arms while performing the stressful activity of throwing a baseball. Most of the time we hear them say: “there’s a pulling feeling”; or “it’s clutching”; or “it locked”; or “it’s a dull ache”; or “I feel weakness”; or “I can’t get loose”. Rarely does a pitcher’s elbow or shoulder explode for everyone to see.

If the Phillies lose Halladay for an extended period or—perish the thought—the entire season, then there might be an opening for the oft-mentioned and heretofore silly talk of auctioning Cole Hamels.

There’s no making up for Halladay’s innings, stuff, presence and dominance. If the Phillies had their regular offensive troops at their disposal, then maybe they’d be able to hang around contention and hope to get one of the Wild Cards. But they don’t. There’s no indication that Chase Utley is going to be ready to play soon. Ryan Howard is beginning baseball activities. Their pitching is gutted without Vance Worley and now Halladay. Kyle Kendrick is already in the rotation as a replacement for Worley and in Triple A the Phillies have the veterans Dave Bush and Scott Elarton pitching well along with former Met Pat Misch. If it’s a short stint on the disabled list for Halladay, they can get by with one of those journeyman stopgaps. If it’s long-term they can forget 2012.

The talk of Roy Oswalt (which is apparently never, ever going to stop) will ramp up in earnest, but he’s not going to be ready until mid-late June and might wind up on the DL himself after one start. The Phillies could be 10 games out by then. It’s easy to reference their comeback in 2010 as proof that they can do it, but that’s sabotaged by reality and human nature. Will Hamels want to overexert himself in a lost cause of a season when he has $160 million riding on his left arm? Will Shane Victorino want to pull a hamstring when he’s going to be a free agent and plays a difficult to fill position of centerfield? These aspects can’t be ignored and they happen more often than we realize.

I said recently that the Phillies won’t clean out the veteran players unless they’re 20 games out of first place at the trading deadline. Losing Halladay would be its equivalent and if teams want to get their hands on Hamels, they should call Ruben Amaro Jr. and see if he’s willing to listen.

He might not have a choice.

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