Cole Hamels Rumors

Cafardo’s Latest: Cobb, Hamels, Red Sox

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares some news and opinions in his latest reader mailbag piece

  • The Rays aren’t looking to trade Alex Cobb, as they see the right-hander as a building block piece.  Cobb is under team control through the 2017 season and is only arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter; as Cafardo notes, Tampa only tends to move its stars when they get too expensive.
  • Cafardo believes the Red Sox will acquire an ace-level pitcher before Opening Day.  Given all of Boston’s other winter moves, “it makes no sense to do all they’ve done…and not go after the ace” to top everything off, Cafardo writes, especially since the Sox have the prospect depth to make a trade happen and already might be over the luxury tax threshold.
  • One of those potentially available aces is Cole Hamels, who the Red Sox have been connected to in rumors but “there haven’t been substantiative talks lately.”  Cafardo speculates that Boston could be waiting for the Phillies‘ asking price to drop, and the Sox have already turned down one offer that would’ve cost them both Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
  • Besides getting an ace pitcher, Cafardo also predicts the Red Sox will add another reliever (possibly a hard-throwing lefty) and trade one of Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava or Allen Craig before the season begins.  In Craig’s case, Cafardo believes the Sox won’t deal him until they see if he’s productive in Spring Training, as Craig is a valuable bat if healthy.

Cardinals Exploring Top-End Starter Acquisition

The Cardinals are exploring several avenues to add a top-end arm to the top of the rotation, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report. The targets include not only free agent Max Scherzer but also trade candidates Cole Hamels of the Phillies and David Price of the Tigers.

Rosenthal and Morosi hasten to add that no deals appear to be close, and note that St. Louis could decide to hold pat with its current slate of starters if the price proves too steep. But the club’s interest reflects some level of concern that the staff will hold up as constituted, per the report.

Scherzer has local roots and could be had for nothing but money, but is expected to command quite a lot of it. The other two hurlers — both southpaws, which the FOX Sports tandem says the Cards would prefer — will obviously require more than cash commitments to acquire.

In the case of Hamels, his no-trade protection would pose no barrier as the Cardinals are not on his no-trade list. But Philadelphia would be looking for a package fronted by a young starter such as Carlos Martinez or Marco Gonzales, while also including a promising young outfielder like Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty. Center fielder Peter Bourjos is also a player that the Phillies have had interest in some time, per Rosenthal and Morosi.

Price, of course, represents an entirely different sort of piece. He is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and is currently under control of a win-now Detroit club. Per the report, St. Louis might pursue Price with the idea of locking him up for the long-term, based in part on the fact that he makes his offseason home in reasonable proximity (Nashville).

The Price-Scherzer dynamic also impacts things from the Tigers’ perspective, of course, and Rosenthal and Morosi say that the team has not approached Price about an extension. GM Dave Dombrowski has not been shy about dealing pitching talent in recent years, and it could be that moving Price off the books for 2015 would pave the way for a return for Scherzer. Of course, that scenario seems fairly speculative at this stage.


NL West Notes: Hudson, Giants, Rosario, Padres

The Giants announced today that right-hander Tim Hudson underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. The 39-year-old Hudson has an expected recovery time of eight weeks, and the Giants believe that he will be ready to go come Opening Day. Giants VP and assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters, including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that Hudson felt increased discomfort in the ankle as he ramped up his offseason workouts. That ankle is the same ankle that was stepped on in a gruesome looking injury in July of 2013 that cut short what was shaping up to be another excellent season for Hudson. The longtime Athletic and Brave returned from that injury to post a solid first season with the Giants; Hudson worked to a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 189 1/3 innings. The TWC Sports client is owed $12MM in 2015 as part of a two-year, $23MM contract inked last winter.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Evans also told Schulman that the Giants weren’t looking to add a Major League starter before Hudson’s injury, and that won’t change despite the surgery (Twitter link). However, he did note that the team is always on the lookout for depth, suggesting that a minor league addition or two could come in to serve as a safety net of sorts.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells MLB.com’s Thomas Harding that he’s had trade talks regarding Wilin Rosario, but “nothing that makes sense” for the club (Twitter link). If no deal is reached, Rosario will play some first base for the Rox in 2015, Harding adds. Rosario, of course, has seen the bulk of action at catcher for the Rockies over the past three seasons, but he grades out as one of the game’s worst defenders behind the dish and has reportedly been shopped for much of the winter. Michael McKenry and newly signed Nick Hundley figure to split most of the catching duties in 2015.
  • While the first offseason of A.J. Preller’s tenure as GM has shown the world that the Padres shouldn’t be counted out on any player, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes that the current roster is probably pretty close to what the final product will look like on Opening Day. “Especially on the pitching side,” manager Bud Black told Brock. “I don’t know how much more we can do with the pitching.” Brock writes that an acquisition of Cole Hamels or a signing of James Shields are at best “very remote” possibilities for the Friars at this point.
  • Already having introduced Matt Kemp, the Padres today introduced Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks at a press conference, and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune has some highlights. Preller said today that the addition of these players (and presumably Kemp) “is about trying to build a core group of players. … Guys we feel very good about putting with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and Jedd Gyorko and some of the other Padres players that are hopefully going to build a competitive team here for the next four years.” Norris told reporters he considers it a “privilege” to be part of such a dramatic roster reshaping. “You don’t see very many teams do things like this,” he added. “It’s just a pleasure to be part of it. I think it’s something special.” As Dennis Lin of the U-T tweets, Upton offered a concise take on his new club: “We’re gonna be pretty dadgum good.”


Rosenthal On The Yankees

For the first time in awhile, the Yankees are showing signs of youth and upside, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Per GM Brian Cashman, the club is deeper, flexible, younger, and more diverse. Rosenthal notes that Cashman is finally operating “from a position of strength,” and “no longer is in a box.” The Yankees have options moving forward besides depending on outspending the competition. Here’s more Yankees notes from Rosenthal’s column.

  • The Yankees have the prospect depth to trade for Cole Hamels if they wanted. However, Rosenthal cautions that Cashman may be reluctant to part with the depth he’s so carefully nurtured. A deal for Hamels might also start with newly acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, which would just create a new problem to solve (arguably a more difficult problem in my opinion). The Yankees had the pieces to add Johan Santana back when the the Twins were shopping him, but they kept their prospects and spent on C.C. Sabathia the following offseason. We could be in for some deja vu, especially with next offseason’s free agent market shaping up to be pitching rich.
  • While the club can turn to free agency rather than trade for Hamels, Rosenthal thinks they would have re-signed Robinson Cano last offseason if they wanted to make a $200MM investment. For that reason, a pact with Max Scherzer might be unlikely.
  • Cashman has three surprising trades this offseason, so guessing his behavior based on history might be misleading. The club could deal from its minor league catching depth, such as John Ryan Murphy or Gary Sanchez. Others such as Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, David Carpenter, and Brett Gardner are less likely to be offered in trade talks.

East Notes: Jimenez, Hamels, Yankees

Ubaldo Jimenez‘s first year with the Orioles was a struggle, but with three years left on his contract, the O’s are hoping for better in 2015, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com writes. Jimenez walked 5.5 batters per nine innings en route to a 4.81 ERA after signing a four-year, $50MM deal last February. The Orioles have tried to trade him, but other teams don’t to take on the rest of his contract. Still, Dubroff notes that Jimenez struck out the side in his last appearance of the year and pitched decently in two starts immediately before that (albeit with too many walks), and Orioles manager Buck Showalter sounds hopeful about Jimenez for next season. “I’m going to be surprised if he doesn’t come in and be ready to pitch like he’s capable of consistently,” says Showalter. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Trading Cole Hamels could result in a Cliff Lee-type trade for the Phillies, but they still need to take the risk, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. The Phillies as currently constituted aren’t strong enough to win with Hamels, so they need to take a chance by trading him for multiple players who can help them win later. Zolecki adds that it’s unlikely the Phillies would deal Domonic Brown or Ben Revere at this point, since the team needs outfielders and both players are relatively young.
  • Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller should be able to handle the late innings in the Yankees‘ new-look bullpen, and there are a number of options for middle relief, Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports writes. The newly acquired David Carpenter could play a key role in the sixth and seventh innings, with Adam Warren and Justin Wilson also helping out in important spots. (One would think lefty Chasen Shreve, who pitched brilliantly in the Atlanta system last year, could be a good matchup option at some point as well.) All that depth means the Yankees don’t have to lean too hard on reclamation projects Andrew Bailey and Esmil Rogers.

Padres Don’t Intend To Trade Myers

9:00pm: Sources within the Padres organization indicate that the team does have interest in Hamels, but plans to keep Myers and play him in center field, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. He’ll be joined by Justin Upton in left field and Matt Kemp in right.

4:40pm: The Padres have had discussions about trading for Cole Hamels, a San Diego native, with newly acquired Wil Myers part of the package, reports Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. The Padres only finalized the trade for Myers on Friday.

With the trade last week of Jimmy Rollins and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. admitting the franchise would be better off without Ryan Howard, the Phillies find themselves torn in regards to Hamels, who is due $96MM through 2018 with a 2019 club option worth $20MM ($6MM buyout). Philadelphia could continue its rebuild by maximizing value through trading Hamels (reportedly for two or three premium prospects, per Lawrence) or build the next contending team around the left-hander.

We can keep him and it would be great for us and if we feel he can move us forward by moving him, that’s something we can explore as well,” Amaro said. “We don’t have any rush to move him or mandate to move him. Hopefully, he’s one of those guys that will be in a Phillies uniform for a long time, but we have to explore all of our opportunities. We’re not doing our organization any justice if we don’t explore every opportunity to get better.

The Padres are not on Hamels’ no-trade list and would be a match for the Phillies based on San Diego’s surplus of outfielders and Philadelphia’s lack of such throughout its system. Lawrence also noted a possibly insignificant but curious development: the Padres have Matt Kemp and Justin Upton jerseys in stock and for sale at the Petco Park team store, but jerseys for Myers are not available.


Cafardo On Hamels, Astros, Howard, Craig

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that teams second guessing themselves is just a regular part of the offseason.  A lot of folks are second guessing the A’s, but manager Bob Melvin has confidence in GM Billy Beane.

We’re looking to get a little bit younger, yet if you want to look back to the end of 2011 and leading into 2012, we traded our last three All-Stars in [Trevor] Cahill[Andrew] Bailey, and [Gio] Gonzalez and we ended up winning the division,” said Melvin. “We’re looking to compete again. This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back we like. There’s always a balance here for us in that we have to look down the road. We lost quite a bit of talent the last couple of years, making some trades. Billy is about as good as it gets as far as being able to handle that balance and keep us competitive currently, yet also having to look down the road for the future.”

More from today’s column..

  • The Astros are a sleeper team in the Cole Hamels chase, Cafardo writes.  The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers are also interested in the Phillies left-hander, but Houston could join the bunch and the Giants may also be in if they can’t land James Shields.
  • The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Ryan Howard, and a team source indicated to Cafardo that they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him.  Howard is owed $60MM between 2015 and 2017, including a buyout.  The Rays and Orioles have DH needs and he could theoretically fit the bill.
  • Both the Marlins and the Brewers have active interest in Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig.  Craig, 30, had some strong years with the Cardinals before joining the Red Sox at last year’s deadline.
  • Agent John Boggs says that he’s having “discussions with several cubs” about client Ichiro Suzuki, though no deal is imminent at this time.
  • Dan Uggla’s agent, Terry Bross, was trying to market his client for a comeback at the Winter Meetings.  Cafardo hears that a lot of the 34-year-old’s decline may have had to do with an undetected concussion.

AL East Notes: Yanks, Detwiler, McLouth, Melky, Sox

The Yankees came away from the Winter Meetings without completing any deals, though it wasn’t for lack of trying, GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch“We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day,” said Cashman as he left the meetings. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.” Hoch writes that the Yankees never made proposals to David Robertson or Brandon McCarthy, the latter of whom “went to a level we couldn’t play on,” in Cashman’s words.

More from the AL East…

  • The Orioles had definite interest in Ross Detwiler before the Nats traded him to the Rangers, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. That he ended up in Texas may be best for the player himself, however, as Kubatko notes that Baltimore would’ve kept Detwiler in the ‘pen. The Rangers plan to use him as a starter, which is his preference.
  • Also from Kubatko, the Orioles have interest in bringing back old friend Nate McLouth, though not at his current $5MM (plus a $750K buyout of a 2016 option) price tag. The Nationals are willing to eat part of that salary to move McLouth, Kubatko adds, but the Orioles will wait to see if he is released for the time being.
  • The Orioles have some interest in Melky Cabrera, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, but only on a two- or three-year deal (Twitter link). Cabrera is said to be eyeing a five-year deal, however, and the Mariners’ previously reported interest appears to be stronger than that of the Orioles, based on Encina’s tweet.
  • Though the Red Sox have five starters (or will have five, once the Wade Miley trade is completed), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that they’re still a match for Cole Hamels. He speculates that an arm like Joe Kelly could be a part of a trade with the Phillies, thereby opening a spot in the Boston rotation.
  • Peter Gammons looks at the reconstructed Red Sox rotation, noting a heavy emphasis on ground-ball pitchers that places some pressure on Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval. Gammons notes that the Red Sox brass is aware of its lack of a front-line starter. They’d like to add James Shields, but “exit polls” at the Winter Meetings had him going to the Giants, according to Gammons. Johnny Cueto is of interest, but the “timing and price isn’t there right now,” and Hamels negotiations with the Phillies have been difficult for all teams involved.

Quick Hits: Hamels, Forst, Rule 5 Draft, BoSox

We at MLBTR would like to thank our readers for their support during this memorable Winter Meetings.  Our 24/7 coverage over the last four days proved necessary given all of the news and major transactions that came out of San Diego, and our committed readership was right there with us by checking in with MLBTR at all hours of the day and night.  Here’s some more news from around baseball…

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark lists the teams he feels were the winners and losers of the Winter Meetings.
  • The Phillies‘ hopes of landing a huge return for Cole Hamels took a hit during the Winter Meetings, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers (the three teams usually cited as the top potential suitors for Hamels) all made moves to solidify their rotations, thus robbing the Phils of some leverage in trade talks.
  • Athletics assistant GM David Forst discusses his team’s offseason moves, the challenges of competing in Oakland and more as part of an insightful interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.
  • With the Rule 5 Draft in the books, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at the scouting reports of the players taken and analyzes the prospects’ chances of lasting the entire season on their respective Major League rosters.
  • The Mets checked in on Yoenis Cespedes at the end of the season but were told by the Red Sox that it would take Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler to obtain the outfielder, Newsday’s David Lennon reports.  Needless to say, negotiations failed to proceed from there.  Rival teams are constantly asking the Mets about deGrom, Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, Lennon notes, while the club is instead trying to deal Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee from its pitching surplus.
  • The Red Sox need an ace to headline their rebuilt rotation, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.  From that same piece, Cafardo talks to an NL scout who believes the Sox got the better of the Wade Miley trade.  The scout calls the young left-hander an “unrefined [Jon] Lester right now, but he’s on his way to being a No. 2 [starter].  Not sure what the D’Backs are thinking on this one, except to get more bodies.”

Winter Meetings Rumors: Giants, Santana, Marlins, Morneau, Dodgers, Angels

Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:

  • The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the GiantsRoyals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
  • The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
  • Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
  • Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
  • The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
  • After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.