If on the Trade Block, Hamels is a Fit With the Phillies
The Phillies are off to a 22-15 start, and that .590 clip over 162 games would be 95.58 wins. While the Phillies are not likely to maintain that pace for the season, they may find themselves in contention as the July 31 trade deadline comes about. And when they do, they might be in the market for something they desperately lack: a left-handed starting pitcher and Cole Hamels just might be available.
The Texas Rangers are very much like the 2014 Phillies. They have reached the end of the line with many of their former core that brought them to contention almost annually. Adrian Beltre, one of the the game's top third baseman over the last 15 years, just hit the disabled list again in what might be his last season. Elvis Andrus is still just 29 years old and plays well, but just hit the disabled list for the first time in his career.
The pitching rotation behind Cole Hamels is filled with gambles such as Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and Matt Moore. Even Bartolo Colon has been a Rangers rotation mainstay in 2018, while Martin Perez is on the disabled list and a gamble on Tim Lincecum has gone absolutely nowhere.
So like the 2014 Phillies, it might be time for the Texas Rangers to sell what they have. At 16-27, the Rangers are already 10.5 games out of first place just a quarter of the way through the season. It was not even late April before reports started discussing potential trades for players on the Rangers roster.
Last week, Jon Heyman of FRS Sports Network declared the Phillies the "best bet" to land Hamels in a trade. The rationale: the Phillies need a left-handed starter and they have money. The other teams who might be in contention, notes Heyman, are close to the luxury tax threshold and might not be able to exceed it to acquire Hamels.
Jon Morosi of MLB network reported that Hamels can block trades to any team except the Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, and Tampa Bay Rays, along with the Phillies.
Of those teams, the Royals and Rays won't be interested. Teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are not on the list. It is hard to tell if the Braves would be interested at this point, but they certainly have the prospects and money to acquire Hamels. The Astros, Mariners and Cubs could have interested; how much remains to be seen.
But the Phillies need a left-handed starter. With still many teams in contention, it is hard to project other left-handed starters available on the trade market. Even if there were, Hamels could be attractive because he has a $20 million contract option for 2019. The Phillies would not simply be adding a trade deadline rental, but someone who could help the club in 2019, too.
WIth Hamels, Jake Arrieta, and Aaron Nola, the Phillies could be putting together one of the premiere starting rotations in all of baseball and be taken seriously as contenders. Throw a top closer and someone like Manny Machado in there for 2019 and the Phillies could be a scary team.
Another arm such as Danny Duffy might fit the left-handed bill. But Duffy is having the worst stretch of his career and the Royals are unlikely to sell low. But if he rebounds, he might be a good fit for the Phillies, too.
It remains to be seen what Hamels would command in a trade. It will certainly be less than the Phillies originally got in return for Hamels. But the Phillies system still has prospects and the club could part with prospects along with a right-handed starter (or two) that could be useful to the Rangers now and later.
The Phillies have a history with Hamels, and that might excite fans. They'd be very excited about a future with Hamels, too. But in terms of a Phillies need, Hamels appears to be a fit. The Phillies will make a move around the best deal, not their love for their former World Series MVP. But it just may make sense.