Cole Hamels Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Correa, Olivera, Hamels, Ramirez

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • With Jed Lowrie out, the Astros could soon promote Carlos Correa even if that risks making him Super Two-eligible, Rosenthal says. Correa is currently dominating at Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .370/.452/.716 at the tender age of 20.
  • The Dodgers continue to receive reports on Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who’s playing simulated games while waiting for his visa. The Dodgers agreed to sign him to a $62.5MM deal in March, although the deal isn’t official due to the visa issue. Once Olivera gets that visa, Rosenthal says, he could be ready to play in the big leagues within three to four weeks.
  • The Giants and Phillies discussed a deal for Cole Hamels this past offseason. They could revive those talks at some point, although the Giants might not have the kind of elite prospect the Phillies seem to be seeking as a centerpiece.
  • Aramis Ramirez‘s contract with the Brewers has a limited no-trade clause, but Ramirez’s agent says his client would likely approve a deal to a contender if the Brewers were to strike one. Ramirez hasn’t hit well this year, but if he can improve his trade stock, the Giants could have interest, due to Casey McGehee‘s poor performance this season.

Heyman’s Latest: A-Rod, BoSox, Bryant, Ventura, Gordon, Duda

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.

Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…

  • Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
  • The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
  • White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
  • The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
  • Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
  • Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
  • The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
  • Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.

Cole Hamels Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest trade buzz about Phillies lefty Cole Hamels

  • “The Cubs have continued to touch base with the Phillies” about Hamels, sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  The likes of Kris Bryant or Addison Russell are “unquestionably off the table,” yet Chicago has enough prospect depth to get the Phillies’ attention.  Whether it’s Hamels or another notable arm, Wittenmyer expects the Cubs to target starting pitching at the trade deadline.
  • The Red Sox have long been connected to Hamels in trade talks, and while those rumors have primarily swirled around Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Phillies also “like” Sox youngsters Jackie Bradley, Deven Marrero, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson and possibly others.  The Phillies have been insisting on Swihart or Betts in any Hamels deal and the Sox have been firm that neither player is being traded.  Also from Cafardo’s mailbag piece, he feels Boston should add an ace but thinks the team will give Rodriguez or Johnson a shot in the rotation before they make a major trade to upgrade their pitching.
  • Of course, there is no evidence that the Phillies will trade Hamels (or Jonathan Papelbon) any time soon, if at all.  GM Ruben Amaro said as much to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, noting that “I have no mandate to trade players. These are not financial deals. These are baseball deals. That’s the beauty of the flexibility our ownership group is giving us. This is really about doing baseball deals. We don’t have to move money.”


East Notes: Brown, Margot, Hamels, Mujica, Tanaka

The Phillies have optioned former All-Star Domonic Brown to Triple-A after his rehab stint came to a close. Brown broke out in 2013 but endured a rough season last year, and it now seems he’ll have to earn his way back onto the active roster. In spite of his troubles, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, the 27-year-old has upside that remains worth trying to tap into for the rebuilding club.

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

  • The Phillies are sending former skipper Charlie Manuel to watch Red Sox minor leaguer Manuel Margot, Murphy reports. Margot, a rising prospect, could in theory be an important piece in a deal involving Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels, though at present that is a largely speculative connection. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, it is “intriguing” to consider whether the Phils would consider structuring a deal around Margot and, perhaps, one of Boston’s upper-level arms — a scenario that Peter Gammons suggested earlier in the winter (Twitter link).
  • As things stand, the Red Sox are not yet prepared to make a move for Hamels, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. But, says Lauber, the club should be prepared to do so — perhaps sooner than later. Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, things could be shaping up for an earlier-than-usual market, particularly with a number of possible Hamels suitors dealing with significant rotation issues.
  • There have been recent suggestions that struggling Red Sox reliever Edward Mujica may be in trouble of losing his roster spot, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted last night. But while a Boston roster move is expected today, tweets the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, it is not expected to be a DFA of the embattled righty.
  • The Yankees are among the clubs dealing with concerns in their starting five, due in large part to the enhanced uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka. As John Harper of the New York Daily News writes, the club is still hopeful that its ace will return this summer, though there is plenty of reason for skepticism. As Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com explains, the larger concern is perhaps whether Tanaka’s devastating splitter will ultimately prove an unsustainable offering in the long run. “That’s what’s made him successful, so that’s how he pitches so you have to deal with it,” said manager Joe Girardi.

Phillies Willing To Pay Some Of Hamels’ Contract In Trade

An incalculable amount of ink has been dedicated to the Cole Hamels saga and whether or not Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is asking too much in trade talks, but the GM himself added another layer to the story Tuesday in telling USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the Phillies would pay down some of Hamels’ contract in a trade.

“We are very open-minded,” Amaro told Nightengale. “We’re not afraid to subsidize contracts. We never told a club that we would not absolutely subsidize his contract. That is not a realistic way to do business. If there’s a deal to be made, and we have to subsidize part of it, we’ll do it.”

As recently as Spring Training, reports indicated that the Phillies were looking to add multiple top prospects and get an acquiring club to take on the entirety of Hamels’ four years and $96MM. (His contract also has a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM based on innings pitched.)

Amaro again took a patient approach when discussing the Hamels situation, noting that it’s understandable if teams want to assess their internal options before making a more drastic move to acquire someone from another organization. “It’s no secret that one team lost an ace and two or three teams have lost very important starters,” said Amaro. “Some teams want to move quickly. Other teams want to ride things out. I think all of us would rather do deals only after exhausting their own internal possibilities and go from there.”

The Cardinals’ recent loss of Adam Wainwright has fueled quite a bit of Hamels-to-St. Louis speculation, and Nightengale also touched base with Cards GM John Mozeliak to discuss Hamels. Mozeliak noted that the team will certainly do its due diligence on trade candidates. Asked if the team could make a deal without including Carlos Martinez, a key member of the 2015 rotation, Mozeliak replied, “There’s probably always a deal worth making.”

Nightengale lists the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and Blue Jays as teams that could desperately use Hamels in their rotation. The Blue Jays wouldn’t seem to have the payroll capacity to add Hamels’ contract, but perhaps with enough money being paid down, something could be worked out. And for what it’s worth, Amaro did mention Toronto GM when making a tongue-in-cheek comment about his stress levels regarding the Hamels negotiations, stating: “I guarantee I’ll get more grey hairs from my daughter [taking her driving test] than any trade talks with Mozeliak, Anthopoulos and Cherington.” Nightengale adds that Amaro had talks regarding Hamels with a team as recently as Tuesday morning, and “some desperation” began to creep into those talks.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took a lengthy look at the market for Hamels earlier today, noting that the Phillies do indeed covet Martinez, though it’s unclear if they’ve formally asked for Martinez in trade negotiations with the Redbirds. Per Heyman, the Phillies are also taken with Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara of the Rangers as well as Luis Severino and Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Despite a brutal month for the Red Sox’ rotation, there’s been no change to their refusal to part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, and the Dodgers similarly won’t part with any of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias, even with injuries ravaging their own rotation.

One rival exec noted to Heyman that, “A few things have lined up in the Phillies’ favor. There’s a little bit of a crescendo. And now is the time to act.” However, a GM explained to Heyman that he’d be more inclined to part with significant pieces to add someone controllable like Seattle’s Taijuan Walker than an aging star like Hamels. (That comment, for what it’s worth, was made prior to Amaro’s comments to Nightengale about absorbing some of the money on Hamels’ contract.)

It strikes me as unlikely that a deal would come together in the near future, but the early rash of pitching injuries, which grew with tonight’s news that Masahiro Tanaka is lost for at least a month, has likely increased the demand for Hamels. Though Amaro’s refusal to budge has drawn a great deal of criticism, it’s certainly easy to make the claim that he’s in a better spot to trade Hamels than he was late in the offseason.


NL Central Notes: Brewers, Wainwright, Hamels, Cingrani

There’s a belief in the industry that the 4-16 Brewers could begin selling off pieces in the near future if they don’t turn their season around, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman hears that veteran right-handers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza could both be in play. Lohse, 36, is a free agent at the end of the year and is owed $11MM in 2015. The 31-year-old Garza has quite a bit more remaining on his deal, as he’s in just the second year of a four-year contract. Garza is owed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn that same sum in both 2016 and 2017 as well. His contract also contains a $13MM vesting option that becomes a $5MM club option if it does not vest.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak spoke with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how the club will handle the loss of Adam Wainwright. While the short-term fix will be to rely on internal options, Mozeliak acknowledged that the bulk of innings the team expects from Wainwright might eventually lead him to look outside the organization. As Goold notes, a desire to limit the innings of young pitchers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha only further adds uncertainty to how the team will replace those innings. Goold notes that the team has spoken to the Phillies about Cole Hamels in the past but found the asking price unreasonable. Whatever route the team winds up taking to overcome this roadblock, Mozeliak has stated that he has the flexibility to add significant payroll this season if necessary, Goold reminds.
  • Reds skipper Bryan Price explained to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com why Tony Cingrani isn’t viewed as an option to step into the rotation even after a potentially season-ending injury to Homer Bailey“I made the decision – I was involved, a big supporter of putting him in the bullpen – not because that’s what we needed for this club at the time,” said Price. “What I felt was it was where he was best suited coming off a year of a lot of injury and shoulder concerns and the limited development of his off-speed pitches.” Price added that he certainly isn’t ruling out the possibility of Cingrani proving him wrong and one day being an excellent starting pitcher, but for the time being, he appears locked into the Cincinnati bullpen.

Cardinals Likely To Replace Wainwright From Within

News of Adam Wainwright‘s potentially season-ending Achilles injury has already led to speculation about the Cardinals trading for an ace like Cole Hamels. But GM John Mozeliak says the team’s first move will be to try to replace Wainwright from within, according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If you get into May and early June and you don’t feel like the internal options are the solution you were hoping for then you might have to look outside,” says Mozeliak. Triple-A pitchers Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney and Zach Petrick could all be short-term options to fill Wainwright’s spot in the rotation. Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia, who are both hurt, could help later on.

Mozeliak adds that he’s not optimistic about Wainwright’s injury. “I don’t like to speculate until you have the full information, but if you ask me how I feel … not good,” he says. “All those rumors floating around seem to have some validity to them.”

It makes sense that the Cardinals would turn first to internal depth options, if only because it’s relatively rare for teams to make major trades so early in the season. Using their own pitchers for the next month or two would allow the Cardinals time to assess how much those pitchers can help and how strong their team is. Lyons, Cooney and Gonzales, at least, do have track records that suggest they can help in the short term, while Garcia is a wild card due to his injury history.


NL Notes: Wainwright, Hamels, Dodgers, DH

Earlier today, we learned the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright could miss the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles injury in last night’s game against the Brewers. GM John Mozeliak has said he will wait to determine Wainwright’s status until the right-hander has been examined by team doctors tomorrow. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from bubbling as to how the Cardinals will replace their ace.

Here’s the latest on those rumors and the rest of the news from the National League:

  • With the Cardinals set to host the Phillies for four games beginning tomorrow, Cole Hamels tops the list of external options to fill Wainwright’s void. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets the Cardinals do not have the prospects to satisfy the Phillies, but the Dodgers and Red Sox are lurking.
  • Besides Hamels, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz opines the Cardinals could puruse a high-caliber starter entering their walk year like David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or Jeff Samardzija. Miklasz, who does examine the Cardinals’ internal candidates, also suggests signing Paul Maholm or acquiring an under-the-radar pitcher like the PhilliesAaron Harang.
  • Hamels trade talks could accelerate in the wake of injuries to Wainwright, the DodgersBrandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, and the struggles of the Red Sox‘s staff, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, the new front office’s philosophy of adding depth with low profile transactions was put into place to weather a rash of injuries and those acquisitions will now become more relevant, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon.
  • One by-product of Wainwright’s injury could be a renewed push for the NL to adopt the DH, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “I wouldn’t be opposed,Max Scherzer told Heyman. “If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules. We keep searching for offense. This would be the easiest way to add offense.Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, as quoted by MLive.com’s Aaron McMann, puts it more bluntly, “When a pitcher goes down with an injury when he’s hitting, you make people second guess the National League’s style of play.

Cafardo On Hamels, Soriano, Red Sox

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe credits Phillies GM Ruben Amaro for his offseason signing of Aaron Harang.  The veteran right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball through the first month of the season after coming to Philly on an affordable one-year, $5MM deal (Harang spoke with MLBTR last month about joining the Phillies).  While it’s been tough for Amaro to find the right deal for Cole Hamels, a few more good starts may net him a prospect for Harang.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • There have been no calls on Hamels regarding a trade since the last week of March, a Phillies source tells Cafardo.  Recently, Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote that rival evaluators believe the pitcher wants out of Philadelphia.  Through four starts this season, Hamels has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
  • Rafael Soriano has returned to the Dominican Republic for workouts as he awaits an MLB opportunity.  We learned yesterday that the Twins are among the teams interested in Soriano. The Tigers and Blue Jays would also make sense as potential landing spots for the reliever. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently reported that there has been contact between agent Scott Boras and the Mariners regarding Soriano and the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers could be “logical suitors.”
  • The Red Sox have received kudos from around baseball for signing right-hander Alexi Ogando as a free agent and many teams are now kicking themselves over not signing him. “They’ve used him so well at the beginning of the season, biting off as much as he can chew and slowly but surely increasing to high-leverage situations,” said one National League scout. “He’s got some real action on his fastball and electric stuff at times. He’ll occasionally leave a pitch over the plate, but this is like a bonus guy. A lot of teams missed the boat and the Red Sox were one of the few teams willing to offer a major league deal.”
  • When asked if he’d ever want to be a manager, Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek told Cafardo, “Maybe someday. Not right now.”  Varitek wants to watch his kids grow up before possibly pursuing such a role.

East Notes: Phillies, Franco, Red Sox, Victorino

Phillies tickets sales are at their lowest since the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover wonders if the fans will return when the team begins to turn the corner in a few years. Philadelphia has a history of punishing noncompetitive teams. Other franchises like the Nationals, Indians, and Braves have seen a much more tepid fan response to winning. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly confident that ticket sales will return to previous levels once the team reaches the postseason.

  • The Phillies will remain patient with top prospect Maikel Franco, writes Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. With the major league club scuffling and Franco off to a quick start (.343/.389/.537 at Triple-A), there is some pressure to get a look at him in the majors. Service time considerations and the performance of Cody Asche will affect when Franco is activated. Unlike the Kris Bryant situation, Franco appeared to need further development during spring training. It doesn’t look like the Phillies will keep Franco in the minors purely for service time considerations.
  • The early returns from the Red Sox rotation have been bad, writes Joel Sherman of the NY Post. Boston starters have a collective 5.46 ERA entering today (and Justin Masterson is off to a poor start). The shaky performances have strained a “dubious” bullpen. Given the deep farm system, the team remains poised to acquire a top trade target like Cole Hamels.
  • Boston has placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, writes Jeff Seidel for MLB.com. The club has recalled Matt Barnes in a corresponding move. For those wondering why Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo wasn’t called upon, he’s currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury. He’s expected to return to the Triple-A lineup next week.