In this off-season of change in the makeup of the Philadelphia Phillies roster, there has been no more intriguing story line than rumored discussions surrounding Cole Hamels availability.
At various times, Hamels has been linked to trade talks with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. Interest in the lefty extends well beyond those teams, as it should.
Any time that a veteran, ace-caliber, left-handed starting pitcher with a legacy of performing well in the biggest games and a proven history of health, and still in his prime performance years, and under contractual control at a reasonable salary cost, becomes available, it would be irresponsible of competitive teams to not at least inquire.
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But that last paragraph highlights the rub: Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is justifiably asking a high prospect price in return for Hamels. With all of those stated qualities involved for the receiving team, it has to be expected that at least 3 strong, or 1 elite (top 15-20) and another strong prospect has to be coming back to the Phillies, with the Phils picking up none of the Hamels salary obligations.
Bill Baer with NBC Sports at Hardball Talk reported yesterday that Padres GM A.J. Preller remains extremely interested in bringing Hamels back to his hometown of San Diego, California. Talk regarding Hamels to the Padres began back in December, with Preller wheeling and dealing his way into the addition of outfielders Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers.
Back in December, much of the speculation centered on the Padres flipping Myers to the Phillies in a deal for Hamels. In fact, at the SB Nation Padres blog ‘Gaslamp Nation’, Pads fans voted 59-41 in favor of such a deal.
Catching prospectAustin Hedges
would have to be included in any Padres trade for Hamels (Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
While interest in Hamels is clearly there from the San Diego perspective, and the Phillies remain committed to dealing anyone who will bring back a decent enough young package, the fact remains that price will continue to be a stumbling block until someone decides to meet the Phils price.
As has been stated many times, Hamels is under contract and relatively young. Theoretically, if the Phils can build themselves back to contending status in 3 years, Hamels could be the ace at the front of their rotation still at that time.
But if the Padres want to pony up Myers and catching prospect Austin Hedges, or are willing to part with Hedges, outfielder Hunter Renfroe, and pitcher Matt Wisler, then they would likely stand a great chance of adding Hamels to front their own rotation.
Clearly the Padres now want to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants at the top of the N.L. West. Preller has shown a willingness to make bold moves to tighten the talent gap in their roster with those divisional leaders. But with those teams rotations fronted by the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, Preller knows that he needs an ace. He has a chance, if he’s willing to pay.