Cole Hamels Rumors

NL East Notes: Stanton, Mets, Nationals, Tomas, Hamels

As expected, the Marlins have begun extension talks with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Spencer that the team has “reached out” to Stanton’s representatives and that “negotiations are ongoing.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • At present, the Mets are more inclined to fill their needs in the corner outfield via trade than through a free agent signing, reports Marc Carig of Newsday. New York is still hesitant to give up any of its best young talent in a swap. But veterans like Michael Morse, Alex Rios, and Torii Hunter all seem more like fallback options that the team would pursue if value can be had and nothing better has materialized. The Mets are said to prefer to add a right-handed bat.
  • One other hypothetical possibility, Nick Markakis, is not presently engaged with the team in any way, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record (Twitter link).
  • As they weigh their options at second, the Nationals are not unmindful of the Cuban market that has begun to materialize in recent weeks, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The primary possible targets, per Wagner, are 26-year-old Jose Fernandez and high-upside youngster Yoan Moncada. The 20-year-old Moncada will draw immense interest, with Ben Badler of Baseball America saying he is talented enough that he would be the odds-on favorite to go first overall in this year’s amateur draft (were he eligible).
  • The Phillies are still the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with A.J. Burnett‘s decision to decline his option possibly burnishing Philly’s chances. That does not mean they are without competition, of course. Other clubs that have seen (or will soon see) Tomas since his showcase include the Rangers, D’backs, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, and Mariners.
  • Also per Heyman, the Phillies could clear yet more payroll space and add young talent through a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, with the Cubs still showing interest in the lefty.

AL East Notes: Markakis, Cespedes, Hamels

The Orioles have spoken to Nick Markakis‘ agent and will continue contract discussions this week, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports.  Markakis is expected to hit free agency when the O’s decline their half of a $17.5MM option on the outfielder’s services for 2015.  “Both sides want to get a deal done, but….A hometown discount has its limits,” Kubatko writes.  Indeed, Markakis will draw a lot of interest on the open market, with MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicting Markakis will find a three- or four-year deal worth between $39-$48MM (depending on whether the Orioles extend a qualifying offer).

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Red Sox had some preliminary talks with Adam Katz, then Yoenis Cespedes‘ agent, about a four- or five-year extension, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports.  Since then, however, Cespedes changed his representation to Roc Nation Sports and is expected to look for a longer-term deal, making it more likely that the Sox explore trading him this winter.  Beyond contract reasons, Boston could look to move the outfielder because, as a source tells Madden, Cespedes “marches to his own drum and the [Red Sox] coaches all hate him.”
  • The Red Sox could use Cespedes as a trade chip for starting pitching, and Madden speculates that the Mets line up with the Sox as trade partners.  Boston is also “exploring” what the Phillies would want for Cole Hamels, though Philadelphia isn’t interested in Cespedes.
  • Ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke with Fangraphs’ David Laurila in September (before the current drama surrounding Maddon’s opt-out) and discussed why pitching and defense are dominating the sport. Beyond the PED crackdown, Maddon pointed out that quite a bit of recent significant sabermetrics work has been focused on pitching and defense, rather than offense.  Maddon also said driving a starter out of a game no longer presents the opportunity it once did, as “You see a lot of 95-plus out of the pen now, and some of those guys have quality secondary pitches. I think it’s become easier to build bullpens, and it’s rare a team has a bad one.”
  • Maddon also suggested speed might become a more crucial part of the game than it has been in the recent past, when homers and walks became the blueprint for offensive production.  The Red Sox, however, are one team that plans to stick to its offensive philosophy, GM Ben Cherington tells Laurila. “We know we need to build a better offense, but we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Cherington said. “If we can see pitches and get on base, and still hit for power and hit with runners in scoring position, I still think that’s a formula to score runs.”

East Notes: Nationals, Phillies, Hamels, Rays

The Nationals will try to re-sign some combination of Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister this offseason, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. The trio combined for 10.8 fWAR in 2014, and all three are eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. The Nats might have to make decisions about which of the three to extend, and could consider trading those they don’t, although GM Mike Rizzo suggests no trades are imminent. “I think we’re a long way from that conversation,” he says. Kilgore adds that Zimmermann became more difficult to sign when the Reds signed Homer Bailey to a $105MM deal last February, changing the market for starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Interim president Pat Gillick’s recent comments that the Phillies did not figure to contend again until at least 2017 marked a change in philosophy for the organization, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “We’ve been talking about a lot of things internally,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “[I]t’s pretty clear that we have had a shift. … [W]e’ve got some regrouping, rebuilding — whatever you want to call it. There’s things that we have to do that are different.” That means the Phillies will try to deal Ryan Howard this offseason, and they’ll also consider dealing Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins if they get the right offers (and if Utley and Rollins approve trades). The Phillies could also sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who would be expensive but who would add youth and star power.
  • The Phillies are willing to deal Hamels, but they’ll be asking a lot, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Hamels should fetch a strong return on the trade market despite the four years and $96MM remaining on his contract, Heyman writes, because free agent aces Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are likely to get even more. Hamels has a 20-team no-trade list that he must update by November 1. Until then, Hamels can be traded to the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers without his consent. The Cubs claimed Hamels off revocable waivers in August.
  • The Rays‘ list of candidates to replace Joe Maddon could include bench coach Dave Martinez, Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, FOX Sports analyst Gabe Kapler, White Sox coach Joe McEwing and former Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Topkin notes that Martinez has interviewed for five other managerial jobs already.


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.