Cole Hamels Rumors

NL Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Niese, Mets, Padres, Johnson

Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
  • While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
  • Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
  • The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
  • One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”

Cafardo On Hamels, Cruz, Hardy, Tomas

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at Jake Peavy‘s effect on the Giants this season. “He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.”  More from today’s column..

  • John Boggs, the agent for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, told Cafardo he will sit down with his client and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by November 1.  Boggs says the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
  • After a one-year pillow offer, Nelson Cruz appears to have riches awaiting for him this winter.  The Orioles will make him the $15MM+ qualifying offer, but he’ll be in demand as one of the few right-handed power hitters out there.  The Yankees can be expected to have interest and the Rangers could look to bring him back.
  • Manager Buck Showalter has talked with J.J. Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing in Baltimore.
  • Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles‘ financial limitations, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the minor league free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season.  Showalter feels that he can do it again with 28-32 year old hitters that are just starting to figure it out.
  • One team’s international scout tells Cafardo that Yasmani Tomas could command as much as $100MM.  The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.”
  • One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Ryan Howard to the American League, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” However, that would require the Phillies to eat a good portion of the $60MM left on his contract.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Amaro, Hamels, Murphy, Medlen

Newly-anointed interim Phillies president Pat Gillick spoke with reporters today, including CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Gillick said there has been “no thought whatsoever” to firing GM Ruben Amaro Jr. or manager Ryne Sandberg, saying that his protege Amaro “didn’t get dumb overnight” after playing an important role in the construction of the team’s latest run of success. But Gillick will be focused on baseball operations, and says that he would have final say if there were any disagreements on personnel issues (while emphasizing that he and Amaro are generally on the same page). As a general matter, Gillick said that he would both function as an “interim caretaker” and an agent of change for the organization. The complete interview is well worth a full read.

Here’s more from the NL East:



Phillies Notes: Roster, Hamels, Sizemore

With the Phillies having retained most of their veteran players through the trading season, Ryne Sandberg is trying to figure out how to juggle playing time for his current roster, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. That could get even tougher next month, as rosters expand and players like infielders Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez come aboard, Gelb points out. “As of right now, it’s to give everybody looks and playing opportunity,” says Sandberg. “Let everybody participate. Now, September could be a little tricky, too, with some added numbers. It’ll be more challenging then.” GM Ruben Amaro recently said the Phillies are still trying to win as much as they can, which likely means playing veterans, even thought the Phillies are 54-68. Here’s more from Philadelphia.

  • If the Phillies were to trade Cole Hamels, they would want three or four top prospects in return, and they’d want to avoid eating any of the $96MM remaining on his contract after 2014, Gelb writes. The Phillies think Hamels could provide a big head start as they attempt to change their fortunes. “He’d be tough to replace,” Says Sandberg. “We have question marks about Cliff [Lee]. Cliff, we won’t know. A.J. [Burnett], we don’t know. You have to start your staff somewhere and he’d be a good place to start.”
  • The Phillies could have interest in bringing veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore back next season, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “He’s played well enough to certainly be in consideration for 2015 and beyond,” says Amaro. “But again that’s one of those questions we’ll continue to assess.” Sizemore has hit .305/.347/.432 in 101 plate appearances with the Phillies since being released by the Red Sox in June. Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere all now figure to be part of the Phillies’ outfield in 2015. As Zolecki points out, Sizemore has out-hit both Brown and Revere, although both of them are much younger than Sizemore.

NL East Notes: MASN, Collins, Phils, Hamels, Bastardo

As baseball’s owners gather in Baltimore to decide upon the next Commissioner, it appears the game’s next steward will find a legal dispute between the region’s two ballclubs — the Orioles and Nationals — waiting for resolution. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports on some details gleaned from court filings, including allegations from Baltimore that the Nationals hoped to use the rights fee renegotiation to render insolvent the jointly owned TV network (MASN) so as to to free the club’s broadcast rights. Today, Kilgore reports (Twitter links) that, based upon filings and already-public information, it appears that the arbitration panel that previously ruled on the dispute awarded the Nationals approximately $55MM in annual rights fees.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Mets manager Terry Collins is likely to return next year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Collins has been at the helm since the 2011 season, and now seems likely to have the chance to try to guide the club through its hoped-for transition from rebuilding to competing.
  • The Phillies‘ rotation may take time to reconstitute, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked if there were any internal options that looked prime to step up to the MLB staff next year, manager Ryne Sandberg could name only Jesse Biddle (who struggled at Double-A this year and is only now returning to that level after a temporary demotion) and, upon prompting from a reporter, recent draft pick Aaron Nola (who just made it to Double-A himself). Meanwhile, Gelb writes that the team is not likely to pursue the top-end arms available in free agency, though could play in the next tier down.
  • Indeed, there is quite a bit of uncertainty in the Phils’ starting five. Cliff Lee‘s availability for next season is still in doubt, Kyle Kendrick will be a free agent, and it remains to be seen whether A.J. Burnett will exercise his player option. And trade speculation has followed the one seemingly sure thing: Cole Hamels, the club’s best trade asset. As Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News writes, Hamels says he wants to pitch for a winner, though he hopes that he can do so in Philadelphia. (With a 20-team no-trade clause, Hamels’s preferences do have a role in any trade discussions.)
  • Turning to the bullpen, lefty Antonio Bastardo — a much-discussed piece of July trade bait who was not moved — could instead be dealt this winter, writes Gelb. Bastardo has had something of an up-and-down year as he approaches his last season of arbitration eligibility. Of course, with his salary rising and the immediate needs of the trade deadline no longer in play, it remains to be seen whether the Phils can extract maximum value for the set-up man.

Phillies Pull Hamels Back From Waivers

1:53pm: The Phillies have pulled Hamels back off waivers after the two sides were unable to strike a deal, tweets Paul Sulivan of the Chicago Tribune.

FRIDAY, 8:43am: In an updated version of his original article, Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs may prefer to add an ace-caliber starter via free agency this winter. They’ll have multiple options to do so with Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester (whom Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer know well) hitting the open market. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears the same, reporting that the Cubs are “expected to be aggressive” on the free agent market.

THURSDAY: As many have been speculating since Cole Hamels was placed on revocable waivers, the Cubs have indeed been awarded the claim on the Philadelphia ace, Mike Missanelli of ESPN 97.5 in Philadelphia first tweeted. However, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that a deal is almost certainly not going to happen. The Phillies, according to Wittenmyer’s sources, have asked the Cubs for one of their prized young shortstops as the centerpiece to a trade. Because both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez are already on the 40-man roster and would therefore be subject to revocable waivers themselves, Addison Russell (and others) is the likely asking price, according to Wittenmyer.

The two sides will have 48.5 hours from the moment of the claim in order to work out a trade. Any 40-man roster players to change hands in a theoretical deal would also need to clear waivers. If and when the two sides decide that a deal cannot be reached, the Phillies can simply pull Hamels back off waivers. Hamels’ contract does allow him to block trades to 20 teams, but as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier today, the Cubs are not one of those 20 clubs. So, in the unlikely event that a deal is agreed upon, Hamels would have no say in vetoing the transaction.

While the Cubs have the financial capability to assume the remaining $100MM+ on Hamels’ contract and the prospect depth to acquire nearly any available player via trade, Wittenmyer reports that the team has “no desire” to use both surpluses on a single player.

It’s certainly not outlandish for the Phillies to ask for Russell and other high-end prospects in order to part with Hamels. The Cubs, after all, acquired Russell (along with 2013 first-rounder Billy McKinney and controllable starter Dan Straily) in exchange for a year and a half of Jeff Samardzija‘s services and three months of Jason Hammel.

Clearly, Hamels has more long-term value than the combination of the two arms the Cubs sent to Oakland. While his salary is sizable, a $22.5MM annual commitment is actually below-market for a top-of-the-rotation arm, which Hamels clearly is. He’s pitched to a 2.42 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 137 1/3 innings this season. He’s controlled through the 2018 season at that same $22.5MM rate, and his vesting option for the 2019 campaign comes with a $6MM buyout. However, if the Phils truly wish to shop Hamels — and there’s been little to no indication that they do — they’d likely be better suited to wait until the offseason, when all 29 other teams could bid for his services and potentially drive up the price.

For those who are unfamiliar with revocable waivers or post-July 31 trading, check out MLBTR’s primer on August trades.


Hamels, Byrd Claimed On Revocable Waivers; Papelbon Clears

THURSDAY: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the previous details of Hamels’ no-trade clause were slightly incorrect, however the error is notable: the Red Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade clause, while the Cubs, according to Stark, are not (Twitter link). It’s still not known if the Cubs were the team to claim Hamels, but if they are the claiming team, he would not have any veto power over a potential deal.

WEDNESDAY: Phillies ace Cole Hamels has been claimed by an unnamed team on revocable waivers, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Phillies will have 48.5 hours to work out a trade with the claiming team or pull Hamels back on waivers. Of course, if Hamels was claimed by any club other than the Red Sox, Angels, Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, Rangers or Yankees — the nine teams not included on his no-trade clause — he would have the right to veto the deal.

As Rosenthal notes, the Phillies may prefer to wait until the offseason to listen to offers on Hamels, as they’ll be free to negotiate with multiple clubs at that time rather than the lone club that has currently placed a claim on Hamels. As a reminder, waiver priority would be determined by reverse order of record, beginning with the player’s current league. In other words, the Rockies, who have the NL’s worst record, would have the first crack at claiming Hamels. Every other NL team would have a chance to do so before Hamels was made available to the team with the worst record in the AL (the Rangers).

The 30-year-old Hamels is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18 (plus a $6MM buyout of his 2019 option) and is enjoying yet another elite season on the mound. He’s posted a 2.42 ERA (2.85 FIP, 3.16 xFIP) to go along with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 137 1/3 innings. Hamels would be the ace of many staffs around the league and would appeal to a wide range of teams — even non-contenders. In his Insider-only blog today, ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that it would behoove the Cubs to claim Hamels and try to work out a deal for the dominant southpaw, as he could serve as a building block for their rotation for several years.

Rosenthal also tweets that Marlon Byrd was claimed by an unknown team, while closer Jonathan Papelbon cleared waivers. Byrd is earning $8MM in 2014 and will earn the same in 2015, and he has an easily attainable vesting option at the same rate for the 2016 season. That obstacle proved to be problematic for Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. while he was listening to offers on Byrd at the trade deadline this season, as he was vocal about his displeasure with the offers he received for Byrd. The 36-year-old Byrd is batting a healthy .269/.318/.474 with 21 homers and solid defense in right field. He can block trades to the Royals, Mariners, Blue Jays and Rays.

Papelbon, meanwhile, is earning $13MM in 2014 and will earn the same sum in 2015. He, too, has a vesting option at his current rate which can be easily attained if he remains healthy in 2015. Papelbon has a 1.71 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate in 47 1/3 innings for the Phillies this season. However, he’s also thrived thanks to a .238 BABIP and an 83.3 percent strand rate while seeing his average fastball velocity dip to a career-low 91.4 mph, leading many to believe that regression is around the corner. Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause but said last month that he would be more than willing to waive that right to approve a trade to a contending club.


NL Notes: Hamels, Bastardo, Alderson, Neshek

Cole Hamels of the Phillies has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unknown team, and David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com notes that the Cubs might have interest. If in fact Chicago was the team that claimed him, trading for Hamels would be a huge splash for a Cubs team that’s spent the past few years mostly avoiding acquiring big-ticket players. The Cubs do, however, appear to be interested in an ace to complement their collection of young hitters — they were connected to Masahiro Tanaka last offseason. Hamels is signed through 2018 with a club/vesting option for 2019, with $96MM guaranteed after this season. His limited no-trade protection would allow him to block a deal to the Cubs, but Kaplan notes that Hamels reportedly had interest in pitching for the Cubs in the past. (UPDATE: ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Cubs are on the list of teams to which Hamels can be traded without his approval.) ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only) noted earlier this week that claiming Hamels would make sense for the Cubs. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo was one of many Phillies veterans not traded at the deadline last week, but now he thinks a trade might help him, Ryan Lawrence of Philadelphia Daily News writes. “I think it could be good for me to stay here, but I think it could be better going somewhere else,” says Bastardo. “We have two young lefties here, and they can do a really good job. A third lefty in the bullpen . . . I think for my career – for my career – I should be somewhere else.” Lefties Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands have both pitched reasonably well out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year. The Phillies placed Bastardo and a number of other players on revocable waivers earlier this week. Here are more notes from the National League.
  • GM Sandy Alderson likely isn’t planning on leaving the Mets anytime soon, David Lennon of Newsday writes. “The goal is to have a winning team, and a playoff-qualifying team,” says Alderson. Alderson’s four-year contract ends this year, but he has an option for 2015.
  • Reliever Pat Neshek is a free agent this offseason, but he would prefer to stay with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I like it here,” says Neshek. “I like how I’m being used. That’s a big part of it. … I feel like I pitch really well at Busch Stadium. I think that would be good for my career, right?” Neshek arrived in St. Louis last offseason on a minor league contract and has made a huge impression, backing up his tiny 0.78 ERA in 46 1/3 innings with 9.5 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9.

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.

Phillies Make Hamels Available; Dodgers Interested

WEDNESDAY: The Phillies have requested multiple top prospects from the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but officials who have expressed interest get the impression that Philadelphia isn’t serious about trading its ace.

MONDAY, 3:50pm: In today’s Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN’s Jayson Stark touched on Hamels’ availability (highlights from the rest of the piece can be seen here, though it’s worth reading in its entirety).

Officials from other teams tell Stark that the Phillies are asking for each team’s top three or four prospects in any Hamels deal, but they’re only willing to eat about $10MM of the remaining $90MM+ on Hamels’ contract. Stark quotes one unnamed executive, who told him, “Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don’t get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn’t work that way.”

Meanwhile, Morosi hears that the Dodgers and Cardinals are the two most likely clubs to acquire Hamels (Twitter link).

3:03pm: Though we’ve been hearing for weeks that the Phillies won’t move ace Cole Hamels, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the team has now made the lefty available, and the Dodgers are interested (Twitter link). However, the asking price on Hamels is still said to be very high, per Morosi.

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, so he wouldn’t have any say should the Dodgers put together a strong enough offer.

Hamels, 30, is enjoying yet another strong season atop Philadelphia’s rotation, having pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 47.5 percent ground-ball rate in 122 1/3 innings. He’s earning $22.5MM in 2014 and is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18, with a $20MM club option for the 2019 season that can vest at $24MM with 400 innings from 2017-18 or 200 innings in 2018. He has about $7.87MM remaining on this year’s salary, meaning that he’s guaranteed another $97.87MM and could earn as much as $121.87MM before hitting free agency.

The Dodgers appear to be looking to make a big splash on the pitching front, as they’ve been oft-linked to David Price and have recently been heavily connected to Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Los Angeles has reportedly been loath to part with both Corey Seager and Joc Pederson in trades, but it’s worth wondering if they’d part with both hitters in order to acquire someone with so much team control remaining. Left-hander Julio Urias has seen his stock skyrocket in 2014 as well, while other pitching prospects such as Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle have delivered relatively disappointing results this year.

The Dodgers’ interest in Hamels isn’t entirely surprising, as the team could lose Zack Greinke to an opt-out clause following the 2015 season. Hamels would give them a dominant arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw in the event that Greinke signs elsewhere.