Cole Hamels Rumors

Rangers To Acquire Cole Hamels In Eight-Player Deal

After months of rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has reportedly been traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal.  The Rangers acquired Hamels, reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5MM in cash for veteran lefty Matt Harrison, pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams.

Jul 10, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels is headed to the Lone Star State.

Tonight’s win left the Rangers four games out in the AL Wild Card, but the Hamels deal was likely completed with future seasons in mind as well.  Hamels is signed through the 2018 season and is guaranteed $82.1MM through the end of his contract, plus a 2019 club/vesting option.  Hamels finished his illustrious Phillies career with a flourish, pitching a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.  The Phillies had drafted Hamels out of high school in the first round in 2002, and he won 114 games for them with a 3.30 ERA, three All-Star Game appearances, and four top-eight Cy Young finishes.  The 31-year-old also sports a 3.09 ERA across 13 postseason starts and was NLCS and World Series MVP when his Phillies won it all in 2008.

Hamels will pair with Yu Darvish, who is presently recovering from Tommy John surgery, atop the Rangers’ rotation, thereby giving Texas a formidable one-two punch to compete in the AL West next year. Joining that pair will be some combination of Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez.

The Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Yankees had also been linked to Hamels in recent days.  According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the lefty wielded his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Astros.  The Phillies did not need Hamels’ consent to trade him to Texas.  With the Royals adding Johnny Cueto on Sunday, teams still seeking an ace in advance of Friday’s trade deadline may turn to the Tigers’ David Price.

Thompson and Alfaro, each top 50 prospects in the game depending on who you ask, are the best pieces coming back to the rebuilding Phillies.  Originally a second-round pick by the Tigers in 2012, Detroit traded Thompson to the Rangers a year ago in the Joakim Soria deal.  Thompson, currently pitching in Double-A, was labeled a “potential No. 2 or 3 starter” by Baseball America prior to the season.  Alfaro, also last seen at Double-A, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law despite a significant ankle injury suffered in June.  Williams is known for an “explosive tool set,” per BA, and he’s currently hitting .300/.357/.480 at Double-A.  The Rangers got quantity in this deal too, as MLB.com says Eickhoff could become a No. 3 starter and BA says Asher profiles as a potential No. 4 starter.

Harrison’s inclusion has a financial element, since the 29-year-old southpaw is owed more than $32MM through 2017.  The Phillies will be on the hook for all of that, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Phillies taking him back may have improved their prospect return, as Harrison has made only nine starts since 2013 due to injuries.  Most recently, he had spinal fusion surgery in his lower back in June of last year and returned to a big league mound this month.

Diekman, a 28-year-old southpaw, has struggled out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year with a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.  He has posted strong strikeout rates throughout his career, but this year his walks ballooned and his batting average on balls in play jumped to .381.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first noted that the Rangers and Phillies were moving closer to a Hamels agreement, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan said the two sides were getting close.  Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grant, and Sullivan added further details.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the amount of money going to the Rangers.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros, Padres “Gaining Steam” In Trade Talks; Houston Focused On Ross

7:30pm: The Astros are more interested in Ross than they are in Cashner, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

6:01pm: The Astros and Padres appear to be making some headway when it comes to a trade involving some of San Diego’s pitching, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One source told Drellich that things are “gaining steam,” though multiple people close to the situation told him that there’s nothing “in the red zone” just yet.

Drellich lists Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner as possible fits for the Astros, and it should also be noted that the Padres have reportedly been pushing to unload the remaining three and a half years on James Shields‘ backloaded four-year, $75MM contract. ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently reported that rival teams expect the Padres to pull off some form of “huge” trade, though there’s nothing yet to indicate the magnitude of a potential swap between Houston and San Diego.

Houston is still interested in Cole Hamels, Drellich hears, but they don’t expect to acquire him. The Rangers are regarded as the favorite, Drellich writes, and all of these moving pieces could align to give us an indication as to what’s to come in the next two days. Not even an hour ago, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that talks between the Padres and Rangers regarding Cashner and Ross had cooled off. As Stark tweets, that may serve as another sign that Texas is the favorite for Hamels. It would make sense, then, to hear that the Rangers’ talks for Cashner and Ross have slowed just as the Astros’ talks with the Padres — perhaps for one of those two pitchers — are beginning to gain traction.


Pitching Notes: Leake, Astros, Pirates, Angels, Johnson, Royals

The sudden availability of David Price will shake up the starting pitching market, of course, but there are plenty of less significant, but still notable developments to cover. Let’s take a look in at a few notes on the pitching market.

  • Reds starter Mike Leake is among the many pitchers still being considered by the Blue Jays, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Per Rosenthal, the club is looking at a variety of arms at a similar level of ability, with the hope of getting the best value out of a deal.
  • The Astros are “monitoring” the market for bullpen pieces, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. They have given at least some thought to quality arms like Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, and Francisco Rodriguez. Houston is also still involved on Cole Hamels, though it still doesn’t seem that they are terribly likely to get him, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Pirates, meanwhile, seem to be looking more at middle relief options, per MLB.com’s Tom Singer. And the Angels are also looking to add another arm to their pen, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. Los Angeles is looking for something on the order of last year’s addition of Jason Grilli says Gonzalez. Presumably, the same holds for Pittsburgh, which sent Grilli out west last summer in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
  • With many teams (including those just noted) looking to add arms, the Braves are “getting lots of play” on righty Jim Johnson, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson isn’t too expensive, has been solid this year, and has obviously spent a lot of time in high-leverage situations, so it stands to reason that he’ll be moved to a contender looking to build out their stable of relief arms.
  • The Royals asked the Tigers about Price before acquiring Johnny Cueto, but moved on to the righty when they learned that Price was not yet being marketed, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • Wondering who the teams listed above could target? MLBTR recently listed the starters and relievers most likely to be available at this year’s trade deadline.


Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.


Cole Hamels Rumors: Wednesday

7:44pm: Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweets that one scenario which was discussed between the Giants and Phillies was centered around young catcher Andrew Susac as well as right-hander Tyler Beede and two more minor leaguers. Clearly, that’s a sizable ask, but the much ballyhooed Susac would be a logical target for the Giants, as he’s blocked in San Francisco by Buster Posey, and the Phillies are in need of a long-term solution behind the plate.

2:07pm: A deal on Hamels is not likely to come together until tomorrow or possibly Friday, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets.

12:12pm: The Giants are “fading” back of the pack chasing Hamels, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Francisco has not communicated with the Phillies on a deal in the last 24 hours, he adds.

It’s not entirely surprising to hear that San Francisco could fall out of the running. The club does have plenty of options in its rotation, so the immediate need is not pressing. And the Giants arguably lack the same stable of high-upside minor leaguers that other teams with interest can dangle.

8:51am: The Red Sox appear unlikely to land Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, according to a report form Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston’s pursuit of the veteran has been complicated throughout by his no-trade clause, per the report.

While the Red Sox have seemed more an outside contender to add Hamels in recent weeks, the report provides interesting insight into how the Phillies will handle their decision. Philadelphia reportedly asked teams to submit their best offers on Hamels today, and presumably will move to work out a deal with the preferred suitor in relatively short order.

Bradford says there are indications that the Phillies may be devoting more attention to working with interested teams that do not appear on the list of teams over which Hamels has veto power. That may suggest that the clause is a significant barrier — and one, perhaps, that the Phillies do not want to deal with in finalizing an agreement.

As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com recently tweeted, Hamels can be dealt to two American League clubs (the Yankees and Rangers) or seven National League clubs (the Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cubs, and Mets) without his consent. Of those teams, of course, Texas and Los Angeles have been most heavily tied to Hamels, with the Yankees and Cubs also mentioned at times as teams with possible interest.


Rangers Out Of Market For Top Rentals, Have Talked To Padres About Pitchers

JULY 28: Not only are the Rangers in contact with the Padres regarding Ross and Cashner, they’re discussing the pair with San Diego as much as they’re discussing Hamels with the Phillies, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (Twitter link).

JULY 26: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday that the 47-50 Rangers were mostly seeking players who could help beyond 2015. Today, Wilson writes (Twitter links) that according to GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers are out of the market for top rental players, although they could pursue minor trades for impending free agents. The Rangers have, of course, lately been strongly connected to Cole Hamels, but Hamels is under contract for several seasons beyond this one.

The team has recently had discussions with the Padres about Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, Wilson writes. Cashner is under control through 2016, Ross through 2017. Ross, who has more years of control remaining and is a strikeout pitcher with an excellent ground ball rate, appears especially likely to require a significant return. The two pitchers were, until recently, frequently connected to the Astros, although Houston would seem less likely to acquire either of them now that they’ve traded for Scott Kazmir.


Dodgers Prioritizing Cole Hamels In Search For Pitching

The Dodgers are prioritizing Cole Hamels in their search for rotation upgrades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Los Angeles “wants to exhaust” the option of acquiring Hamels before moving onto a “Plan B” like Yovani Gallardo. Per Sherman, the Dodgers continue to insist that they will not part with top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias, however.

Refusal to move either Seager or Urias will certainly work against the Dodgers, who face steep competition in the market for Hamels. The Giants are said to be making a “strong push,” and the Astros are also pushing for the Philadelphia ace. The Rangers have been discussing prospects with the Phillies recently, and the Diamondbacks have emerged as somewhat of a surprise candidate in the Hamels sweepstakes as well. The Cubs are said to merely be “on the periphery” of the Hamels market.

The Phillies have asked that teams make their best offers for Hamels by tomorrow, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and his previously scheduled Thursday start has been pushed back to Friday — after the trade deadline — so as not to risk an injury and to potentially make him immediately available to start for an acquiring team. Over the weekend, Stark characterized the Dodgers as one of the favorites for Hamels.


Phillies Asking Clubs For Best Offers On Hamels By Tomorrow

3:46pm: MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports (via Twitter) that Hamels will not start for the Phillies Thursday, as had been scheduled. Hamels’ start has been pushed back to Friday, though that game comes after the trade deadline. This prevents a disastrous scenario in which Hamels suffers an injury and also makes him available to start immediately for his team either Friday or Saturday if he’s traded on Thursday or Friday.

11:32am: The Phillies are notifying teams with interest in lefty Cole Hamels that they would like to receive their best offers tomorrow, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. It’s unclear what the team’s decisionmaking process or timeline would be from that point, but there is at least some possibility of a deal occurring before Hamels makes his scheduled start on Thursday.

It makes sense, of course, that Philadelphia would look to strike a deal just ahead of Friday’s deadline. He is fresh off of a no-hitter, after two rough starts before it, so there’s only downside in putting him back on the hill in a Phillies uniform. And handing off another outing won’t hurt his trade value, either.

As for the suitors, we’ve heard of late movement from the Giants as well as from the Astros and Diamondbacks. Stark lists those clubs, along with the Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox, as organizations known to have had ongoing discussions with Philadelphia.

As he notes, however, “about half of that group” is participating because the Phillies have sought “to reopen discussion” of names that were previously deemed off limits. And one source says that there’s “nothing happening” with San Francisco, per the report.


Giants “Making Strong Push” For Cole Hamels

10:50am: The Giants “don’t have a strong enough package of prospects” to land Hamels, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

8:20am: The Giants are “making a strong push” for Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. San Francisco has previously been mentioned as a suitor, but it appears that the team is looking to make a serious attempt at landing the lefty.

Of course, we heard yesterday that the Astros, too, were also driving after Hamels. And there were indications that the Diamondbacks had entered the conversation as well. It’s not yet clear, though, that clubs with more long-standing interest — particularly, the Rangers and Dodgers — have been displaced as the likeliest landing spots.

From the Giants’ perspective, yesterday’s news suggested that the club was interested in adding a starter, but only if it was a significant upgrade. And San Francisco did not seem terribly likely to actually pull something off.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the run at Hamels will amount to anything. The Giants do have forward-looking financial flexibility, as Rosenthal notes on Twitter, but the same could probably be said of several other teams reportedly in the hunt. It’s not clear what kind of package the team would be interested in dangling, though young catcher Andrew Susac would seem likely (in my opinion) to hold significant interest to Philadelphia.

Hamels could block a deal to the Giants, who are not on his list of nine teams to whom he can be dealt without consent. (Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweeted the updated list recently.) It’s not clear at present whether that would pose any issues.


Cubs, Padres Talked Castro; Cubs Not In On Shields

8:57pm: In their conversations with the Padres, the Cubs have been focused on Ross, per a Rosenthal tweet. As he notes, that isn’t exactly surprising. The 28-year-old has been rather excellent dating back to 2013, and comes with two more seasons of control. There’s a good argument to be made that his contract is the organization’s single most valuable asset.

As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today, a wide variety of teams have interest in Ross, including the Blue Jays, Astros, Dodgers, and Rangers.

8:02pm: Whatever other talks the teams may have had, Chicago is not making a run at Shields, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

7:35pm: The Cubs have had discussions with the Padres regarding shortstop Starlin Castro, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports report on Twitter. San Diego does not look like a traditional buyer, but as noted in MLBTR’s overview of the shortstop trade market, the team makes sense as a future-oriented acquirer at the position.

Castro is still just 25, though he’s playing in his sixth big league season. He is owed $37MM over the next four seasons and can be controlled with a $16MM option in 2020 ($1MM buyout).

That contract once looked like an asset, but after a second rough campaign in three years, it looks more like a reasonable risk. Castro owns a .233/.268/.302 slash over 399 plate appearances, which falls well below his roughly league-average career output. He’s generally regarded as a mediocre defender at short, and metrics suggest he’s slightly to firmly below average in that department.

It’s not clear what kind of deal would be considered, but San Diego has a number of players who could hold appeal to the Cubs. Morosi suggests the possibility of a swap of James Shields, which holds at least some plausibility (as a starting point, at least) since both are owed significant future money and could arguably be better fits for the current needs of the other club. But he gave no indication that there is anything to that idea other than his own analysis.

Looking at the San Diego roster for other pieces that could be intriguing to the Cubs — whether or not as part of any deal involving Castro — the rotation certainly seems the place to focus. We’ve heard plenty in the past about the need for a rotation addition in Chicago, and both Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner are younger, controllable pieces that have been mentioned as possible trade pieces. On the rental side, Ian Kennedy should hold some appeal and could also be a theoretical fit for Chicago. Outfielder Will Venable and reliever Joaquin Benoit are two more pending free agents that could make sense.

Should the Cubs make a major move, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has explained that it would likely be for a controllable piece. (Via ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers; links to Twitter.) While the team is entertaining rental options, it seems unlikely to pay a steep price to add a premium player that will hit the open market after the season.

“If we do something on the bigger end, it will involve players that will help us beyond this year,” said Epstein. “If we do something on the smaller side, it will probably be more for a rental. And if we do nothing, it will be because we couldn’t find anything rational that we could actually do.”

As for as larger possible moves go, we’ve heard the Cubs linked to Cole Hamels of the Phillies at various times. Per Morosi, via Twitter, the team is only on the “periphery” of the Hamels market at present.