Cole Hamels Rumors

East Notes: Lee, Hamels, Braves, Price, Orioles

There were plenty of scouts on hand for the Phillies‘ matchup tonight, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (links to Twitter). Among the players presumably being eyed were starter Cliff Lee, fresh off a lengthy DL stint, and southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo. Clubs with representatives on-hand included the Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Angels, Royals, Giants, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners, though Crasnick adds that all were not necessarily looking at Lee in particular. The return start for Lee did not go well for the veteran lefty, as he surrendered 12 base hits (11 singles and one long ball) and six earned runs to go with three strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • The Phillies are telling clubs that starter Cole Hamels is not available, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Hamels looks to be the best trade piece on the club’s current MLB roster, but Philadelphia may well prefer to keep the 30-year-old as it attempts to avoid a total rebuild.
  • The Yankees appear on Lee’s twenty-team no-trade list, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lee also listed New York on last year’s version of his slate of clubs to which he can decline to be dealt.
  • For the Braves, the trade deadline is likely to bring aid to the bullpen and bench, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A left-handed reliever has long been on the club’s list, and Bowman says that the club might also look to add a bench bat that would improve the team’s anemic pinch-hitting results. As Bowman notes, Jordan Schafer and Ryan Doumit have both largely been ineffective in that role.
  • The Rays now seem more likely than ever to take the decision whether to deal David Price right up until the trade deadline, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post“I think they take it down to the wire,” an executive told Sherman. “That allows them to make sure they know who they are while making a couple teams sweat to the end that one of their competitors are going to get him. … It wouldn’t surprise me if Price actually ends up a July 31 decision.”
  • Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking at a broad array of options to bolster their club, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli. In particular, the club is looking at both starting and relief arms, and has indicated to at least three clubs that righty Miguel Gonzalez could be moved. One of those teams is the Padres, who of course hold one of the better available starters in Ian Kennedy. A.J. Burnett of the Phillies is also on Baltimore’s radar, as is Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, though Ghiroli says that Colorado was asking for top prospect Kevin Gausman to be included. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that executive vice president Dan Duquette remains hesitant to part with the club’s best prospects, and could ultimately take things down to the wire to get the right deal. (That, of course, was the strategy that Baltimore employed in this year’s free agent market, though last year the club started buying somewhat early at the deadline.)

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Lee

Here’s the latest on the Phillies and the numerous trade candidates on their roster…

  • The Pirates had a scout watching A.J. Burnett‘s start on Friday, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  The Bucs are known to be looking for starting pitching and Burnett is certainly a familiar quantity for them.  The veteran righty has a partial no-trade clause, though it isn’t known if he can block a deal to Pittsburgh or if Burnett would welcome a deal to a contender that is still close to his Maryland home.
  • Cole Hamels has received some trade interest from the Red Sox, though CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wonders if this could be a tactic to restart extension talks with Jon Lester.  Otherwise, Boston’s pursuit of Hamels doesn’t make a lot of sense to Heyman — the Sox could just re-sign Lester, rather than pay a similar price to Hamels through 2018 and have to give up prospects to the Phillies to get him.
  • The Blue Jays and Yankees both scouted Cliff Lee‘s final rehab start, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes.  Lee returns from the DL to start against the Giants tonight, and scouts from several teams are expected in attendance for Lee’s two scheduled starts prior to the July 31st deadline.

NL Notes: Hamels, Lee, Burnett, Colon, Padres

The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15, own the National League’s worst record and the third-worst mark in all of baseball. The franchise faces six key questions, according to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, including whether to trade Troy Tulowitzki and to overhaul the front office to appease the disgruntled fan base. Saunders doesn’t see either happening because owner Dick Monfort is an extremely loyal and stubborn man. Saunders writes Tulowitzki could force a trade if he is willing to be portrayed as the disloyal, bad guy. Elsewhere in the NL:

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Cafardo On Price, Cardinals, Hamels, Benoit

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester.   Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market.  Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far.  “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo.   Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
  • The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels.  The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
  • Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
  • Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source.  Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.

Phils Not Looking To Move Hamels, Prefer To Deal Lee

10:25am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the Phillies’ preference is to deal Cliff Lee rather than Hamels, though his current injury complicates that matter. Those familiar with the team feel that Lee would prioritize a winning team over remaining in Philadelphia, and that he would therefore be more likely to waive his no-trade clause. The same cannot be said for Hamels at this time, whose preference is to remain in Philly, Heyman writes.

Lee should be able to make at least two, if not three starts prior to July 31 after he is activated from the disabled list. That’s not a huge sample, but it should be enough time for him to prove his health, to an extent.

8:33am: While some recent rumors have circulated regarding the Red Sox and Cole Hamels, the Phillies aren’t currently inclined to deal him, a Major League source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber suggests a similar notion (Twitter links). A source tells him that while the Sox are open to adding front-line starting pitching as insurance in case they cannot retain Jon Lester, there’s nothing in the works with Hamels, and acquiring him is more of a concept than a reality at this point.

Recently, it was reported that Hamels could block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Hamels cannot block a trade are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres. Bradford writes that the Red Sox are believed to have checked in on Hamels earlier this season, but the two sides haven’t engaged in any recent trade discussions.

Hamels’ availability — or lack thereof — will be a defining point on this summer’s trade market. The 30-year-old is owed $90MM through 2018 — a reasonable sum in today’s market given his track record of excellence — and his contract contains a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM if Hamels is healthy and throws 200 innings in 2018 (or 400 innings from 2017-18). Should he be made available in the next 13 days, Hamels would join David Price (and perhaps teammate Cliff Lee, depending on his health) as one of the most desirable arms on the open market.


Phillies Notes: Hamels, Minors, Utley, Rollins

The Phillies are guaranteed to go into the All-Star break in the NL East basement, as even a win over the first-place Nationals today will leave Philadelphia with only a 43-52 record from the opening half.  There has already been a lot of speculation about what the club’s selling plans are for the trade deadline so here’s the latest from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • While there’s certainly a case to be made for trading Cole Hamels, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out that moving the star lefty would leave the Phils’ rotation very thin for 2015.  Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez are free agents, A.J. Burnett could decline his player option and Cliff Lee could be traded as well, so if Hamels goes, the Phillies would have to rebuild an entire rotation around David Buchanan.
  • The Phillies’ farm system is thin on talent that can quickly help the Major League roster, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that hitting talent is a particular need, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  “There are not enough offensive players in our system,” Amaro said during an interview last week. “We feel we need to do better than that, and it certainly is something that is a priority for us.”
  • Jonathan Papelbon shouldn’t be faulted for his recent comments about not wanting to play for a non-contender, the Inquirer’s Bob Ford opines, and he wonders if Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins share the same sentiment.  The two players’ status as longtime franchise cornerstones makes their situation different than Papelbon’s, though “it would be tough to see them go, but perhaps tougher to see them stay, delaying the overdue rebuilding and eating up payroll flexibility as the team limps along,” Ford writes.

NL East Notes: Zimmermann, Murphy, Phillies, Hamels

The Nationals are crossing their fingers after All-Star starter Jordan Zimmermann left today’s start with a right arm issue. Initial indications were positive, as the club said that Zimmermann was experiencing a biceps cramp and that hopes are it is not a serious issue, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington reports on Twitter.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • The Mets have not fielded much interest lately in second baseman Daniel Murphy, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. A club official also told Puma that trade talks have generally been rather quiet.
  • Having “hit rock bottom,” it is time for the Phillies to deal, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). Olney posits that pitchers Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon could hold appeal to larger-payroll clubs, outfielder Marlon Byrd would draw interest given the dearth of available power bats, Chase Utley would be a good match for the Athletics or Giants. The market is shaping up well for Philly, Olney says, with the recent spate of significant injuries.
  • While some have suggested that Phillies lefty Cole Hamels could be had by the Yankees, in part by a willingness to take on his substantial salary, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that is highly unlikely. The Phillies would only deal Hamels if one of the pieces coming back (among others) was a solid, young starter that could slot right into the rotation, says Murphy, and that is something New York cannot offer.

Cole Hamels Can Block Trades To Twenty Clubs

The two-year anniversary is approaching of the pre-trade deadline extension signed between the Phillies and lefty Cole Hamels. As part of that six-year, $144MM deal, Hamels received a limited no-trade clause, the details of which had gone unreported.

Now, with Hamels a potential trade target, details have emerged regarding the clause, via Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (links to Twitter). Hamels is permitted to designate twenty of the league’s thirty clubs for no-trade protection, reports Morosi. The remaining nine teams (other than the Phillies) to which Hamels may be traded without his consent are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Padres.

It is difficult to say what this means for the possible Hamels market, should Philly make him available. In some respects, the mere fact that the club would need to consult with the pitcher to send him to any one of twenty clubs could pose a deterrent. On the other hand, his list could conceivably indicate a willingness to go to a contender, as it seems to be composed of teams that were expected to be in the mix (in addition to those that, as Morosi notes, are located near his native southern California).


Quick Hits: Phillies, Ruiz, Hamels, Royals, Padres, Price

Here are the latest trade deadline news and rumors from around the game …

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that the club’s next ten games will help decide how the club navigates the trade deadline, per an interview transcript from Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News“We’ve been assessing this thing and will continue to do so all the way through this month,” he said. Amaro said that he has had “tons” of conversations, mostly to feel out needs, and that his focus is on improving the club’s production at the plate. “On our side, we’re looking for some offense, we’re looking for some younger players, we’re looking for some things that can help us short term and long term,” said Amaro. “As far as the other teams are concerned, some of them know exactly what they want, but most of them don’t. I mean, there’s still a lot of time. A lot of injuries can happen, there’s a lot of different things that can happen with some of these teams moving forward.” In terms of the club’s timeline, Amaro reiterated that he is not interested in a complete tear-down, but said that, “if we have to go a step backward for a year or two to move forward then that’s what we’ll try to do.”
  • One theoretically possible Phillies trade chip — catcher Carlos Ruiz — has suffered a concussion that Amaro calls “a little more serious than we originally thought,” as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Since signing a three-year, $26MM deal in the offseason, the 35-year-old has produced a .257/.33/.357 triple-slash through 273 plate appearances.
  • It remains to be seen whether or not Phillies starter Cole Hamels is shopped at all. But if he is, the Blue Jays would only be able to acquire him if he waived his no-trade protection, as they are one of the teams on his list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • Rival officials are skeptical that the Royals have freedom to add payroll, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the club would be able to take on salary to bolster the roster for a postseason push.
  • The Padres have fielded trade interest in outfielders Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Nevertheless, the club’s most asked-about pieces to date have been back-end relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit.
  • Heyman also reports that the Rays have set a high asking price for David Price in discussions with the Dodgers, with Tampa seeking multiple elite prospects. Heyman argues that giving up more than one of the club’s five best youngsters — he includes Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, Chris Anderson, and Zach Lee — would be a mistake for Los Angeles.

Latest On Blue Jays’ Interest In Jeff Samardzija

The Blue Jays continue to scout Jeff Samardzija, as pro scouting director Perry Minasian was in attendance for yesterday’s outing against the Reds, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Much of the chatter regarding Samardzija to this point has included speculation when it comes to Chicago’s asking price, but Morosi hears “strong indications” that the Cubs would deal Samardzija for a package highlighted by right-hander Aaron Sanchez, left-hander Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey.

Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that he won’t include all three of those prospects in a deal for Samardzija or any other available pitcher — even David Price — according to Morosi’s report. He also notes that as much as the Blue Jays like Samardzija, they may prefer Price and Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels (though the latter isn’t guaranteed to be available).

The Blue Jays reluctance to deal three of their top prospects lines up with previous indicators that they may be more interested in rental players than controllable players due to a strong desire to preserve some of their farm system. Toronto has dealt away some notable prospect value — including Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez and Anthony DeSclafani — to acquire the likes of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. One thing we do know is that Anthopoulos feels he will have ownership’s blessing to expand the team’s payroll if necessary.

As for the three prospects listed by Morosi, Sanchez entered the season with the highest stock of the bunch but has seen his star lose some of its luster after struggling to a 4.08 ERA and issuing 48 walks in 75 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Norris, on the other hand, has been electric, turning in a combined 1.62 ERA and 4.47 K/BB ratio in 72 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Pompey ranked just 17th among Toronto prospects (per Baseball America) prior to the season but has boosted his value with a strong .312/.392/.460 batting line, six homers and 27 steals (in 29 attempts).