Cole Hamels Rumors

Stark On Rays, Volquez, Butler, Phillies

The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors…

  • The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
  • The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.” 
  • The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
  • Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
  • Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
  • The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
  • The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
  • The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.

Sherman On Mets, Hamels, Padres

The asking price for relief help remains high, even for players nearing free agency, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Mets, of course, are looking for relievers and they’d prefer to acquire a controllable player, according to Sherman. Here are Sherman’s latest notes, starting with the Mets:

  • Acquiring a controllable reliever would provide the Mets with a long-term bullpen option but, it won’t be easy to complete a deal. “The problem is those guys are so scarce, and the cost, at least at this point, is prohibitive,” a Mets official told Sherman.
  • The Rays have always liked Lucas Duda, so there’s a potential match between the Mets and Rays, Sherman writes.
  • The Mets privately believe that the future of pitching prospect Jeurys Familia may be in the bullpen, so they could promote him in a relief role.
  • Cole Hamels could decline an extension offer that’s expected to fall in the six-year, $130MM range, but it wouldn’t be easy to do so, one team executive told Sherman. “My sense is he is comfortable in Philly, they have made the playoffs five years in a row and the $130MM says they value him, so it is going to take a heck of a reason to say no to that.”
  • If the Padres’ efforts to lock Huston Street up to an extension fail, they’ll make him available in trades later this month.

Quick Hits: Strasburg, Rangers, Hunter, Cubs

Cody Ross was a walkoff hero for the Red Sox tonight, slugging a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off White Sox closer Addison Reed to give Boston a 3-1 win in the Battle Of The Sox.  Here are some links from around the majors as we wrap up a busy Thursday of trade rumors…

  • The Nationals have decided on to shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point this season though it may not be at the 160-inning limit, GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Pedro Gomez.  "There is no magic number," Rizzo said. "It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won't decide and ownership won't decide. It will be the general manager, and that's me."
  • The Rangers have "a very small list" of pitchers on their wish list and may be out of the pitching market entirely if Cole Hamels signs an extension with the Phillies, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • If Torii Hunter is really willing to take a big discount to re-sign with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Halos could save money by keeping Hunter and Peter Bourjos at low costs and then non-tender or trade Kendrys Morales to free up more money to pursue pitching.
  • The Cubs are unlikely to make a major free agent signing this winter, as Theo Epstein tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney that the team isn't far enough along in its rebuilding process.  “Free agency’s definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent," Epstein said. "But you cannot make an organization that way. And we have a lot of steps ahead of us that we need to take care of before we’re in a position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.”
  • Beyond their big-name talent, the Cubs are also getting calls about right-handed hitting bench players Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson, reports Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).
  • The Twins led all teams in draft spending this year, as Baseball America's Jim Callis breaks down how much each club spent on their draft picks.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
  • Dodgers president Stan Kasten hinted that his team isn't likely to splurge in a blockbuster trade deadline deal, saying any trade the Dodgers make will "have to be governed by reason" and "make sense long term," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters (including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that his team is running out of time to prove they're contenders before the Fish could be forced to sell some pieces at the deadline.  “In terms of decision making, I don’t how that’s going to go,” Beinfest said. “I really don’t. We need to win games here to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things….You believe in your talent and hope we get hot. I think that’s where we are right now. But every day that goes by, it gets tougher and tougher to do that.” 


Discussions Pick Up For Hamels, Phillies

The Phillies and the agent for Cole Hamels have recently picked up the pace of discussions regarding a possible extension for the left-hander, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The discussions indicate that the Phillies intend to make a major push to sign Hamels to a long-term contract before the July 31st trade deadline.

The Phillies are now willing to offer Hamels a six-year deal — a first for any starter in Phillies history — Stark writes. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirms that the Phililes are willing to offer six years. The Phillies are sending signals that they're planning to make an initial six-year offer for $130MM or so, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. John Boggs, who represents Hamels, will weigh Philadelphia’s offers against the possibility of a lucrative multiyear contract in free agency a few months from now.

Teams that have spoken to the Phillies say the club has put trade talks involving Hamels on hold, according to Stark. Those teams say they’ve been more interested in discussing deals involving other players. However, the Phillies have prepared for the possibility of trading Hamels by scouting the prospects of rival teams.


Heyman On Escobar, Bourjos, Sanchez

The Phillies intend to offer Cole Hamels an extension worth approximately $130MM over six years, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • Heyman keeps hearing that the Blue Jays want to trade Yunel Escobar (Twitter link). The Braves, Escobar’s former team, have little depth at shortstop following injuries to Andrelton Simmons and Jack Wilson, but they’re not interested in Escobar.
  • The Angels are willing to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos in some deals, Heyman reports (Twitter link). The 25-year-old has a .243/.298/.360 batting line and won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season.
  • The Angels are looking at Hamels, Zack Greinke and potentially available relievers as they aim to improve their pitching staff, Heyman adds.
  • Heyman keeps hearing the Marlins could trade Anibal Sanchez (Twitter link). The Braves have expressed interest in Sanchez, who’s earning $8MM in his final season before free agency, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter).
  • The Dodgers are looking in a variety of places for offense, Heyman reports (on Twitter). He suggests Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham, Corey Hart and Chase Headley are all possible fits, but says Alfonso Soriano is a no-go.

Phillies Planning To Offer Hamels $130MM

WEDNESDAY: The Phillies are sending signals that they're planning to make an initial offer for about $130MM over six years, Heyman reports. They appear to have had some conversations with Hamels in recent days.

MONDAY: It appears that the Phillies are planning to offer Cole Hamels a contract extension worth at least $120MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Though the Phillies hope to keep Hamels, people within the organization aren’t optimistic their forthcoming offer will convince the left-hander to sign a deal just a few months away from free agency.

Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee is in the second year of a five-year, $120MM contract that will likely come up in contract talks between the Phillies and agent John Boggs. Some rival officials have suggested the Phillies might have to match Johan Santana’s six-year, $137.5MM contract to lock Hamels up, however. Meanwhile, MLB agents have suggested that Hamels could earn upwards of $150MM as a free agent.

More than 57% of 11,500 MLBTR readers say they don't expect the sides to reach a deal. Plenty of teams have interest in discussing trade options if the Phillies can't sign Hamels long-term.


Sherman On Phillies, Hamels, Dempster

The Phillies are said to be planning to offer Cole Hamels a contract extension worth at least $120MM, but it’s not stopping them from evaluating trade possibilities in case the sides don’t reach a deal. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Phillies are “operating on two planes” with Hamels. They’re involved in serious negotiations about a long-term deal at the same time that they’re positioning themselves to trade Hamels and Shane Victorino quickly if necessary. Here are the rest of Sherman’s notes on the trade market:

  • The Dodgers loom as a team that figures to bid aggressively on Hamels should the left-hander hit free agency this coming offseason. One official connected to the Phillies said they realize “their best number has to come now.” 
  • The Angels and Rangers are arguably the two most motivated buyers of the summer, and both are potential fits for Hamels. One scout suggested the Angels could obtain Hamels for Peter Bourjos and prospects Jean Segura and John Hellweg, but other executives say they’d be shocked if the Phillies get that much for Hamels given the new rules regulating draft pick compensation.
  • The Cubs want to move Ryan Dempster in the relatively near future and turn their focus to trade talks involving Matt Garza, Sherman writes. The Dodgers are currently viewed as the favorites for Dempster, the Tigers are seen as “strong pursuers” and the Red Sox appear to be long shots.

Morosi On Braves, Tigers, Cardinals, Greinke

The Braves are looking at possible bullpen upgrades in addition to starting pitching options, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Here are more news items from Morosi with precisely two weeks to go before this year’s trade deadline…

  • The Tigers would like to add a left-handed starter, but are wary of taking on all of Wandy Rodriguez’s contract, Morosi reports (on Twitter). Rodriguez earns $10MM this year and $13MM next year. His contract includes a $13MM option for 2014 that becomes a player option if the Astros trade Rodriguez. 
  • Jason Vargas is a similar pitcher to Rodriguez on a more affordable contract who could appeal to the Tigers, in my opinion. Alternatively, Houston could absorb salary to facilitate a trade.
  • The Cardinals continue to monitor the market for starters and relievers, Morosi and Ken Rosenthal write. The Mariners recently scouted Cardinals pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, but it’s not known if the teams are actively discussing a trade for Vargas or anyone else.
  • Morosi gets the sense that Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke will stay put in Milwaukee this year (video link).
  • Morosi explains that he believes Cole Hamels is a better fit for the Rangers than the Angels (video link).

Rosenthal On Rangers, Angels, Cubs, Marte

It’s time to consider the Angels and Rangers superpowers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Lucrative regional TV deals, an abundance of star talent and the flexibility to make further moves have turned the Angels and Rangers into imposing organizations. Both clubs have both scouted Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels, but the Rangers view those pitchers as rentals and are hesitant to part with top prospects for either one. Here are more of Rosenthal’s latest notes:

  • The Brewers haven’t given up on the 2012 season, but they’ve talked about exploiting the Angels-Rangers rivalry, Rosenthal writes. Many executives believe the return for a pitcher like Greinke or Hamels will be surprisingly low because the new collective bargaining agreement prevents teams from obtaining compensation for players acquired midseason.
  • Ryan Dempster, who can veto any trade, has said he would consider going to any contender. The Cubs want to assume the majority of the $6.1MM remaining on Dempster’s salary to obtain better prospects in return. Rosenthal suggests interested teams might look to extend Dempster this summer and keep him off of the free agent market.
  • The Cubs wanted a Gio Gonzalez-like return for Matt Garza last offseason, Rosenthal reports.
  • Rosenthal suggests the Phillies could trade Jimmy Rollins, but points out that the shortstop earns $11MM per season through 2014. “That contract, boy oh boy,” one executive said, suggesting it could deter interested teams.
  • Baseball people express doubt about the star potential of Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Rockies are pleased that Ramon Hernandez has helped Wilin Rosario develop and don't seem overly earger to trade the veteran Hernandez.
  • The Tigers are scouting Marco Scutaro and they aren’t the only team with interest in the veteran infielder. The Brewers inquired on Scutaro, but talks didn’t progress.

Yankees Will Monitor Hamels, Pass On Greinke

The Yankees will stay informed about Cole Hamels’ availability between now and the July 31st trade deadline, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. But even if the left-hander's possible extension doesn't materialize and the Phillies decide to weigh trade offers, Yankees GM Brian Cashman probably won’t pursue Hamels as aggressively as he went after Cliff Lee two years ago. 

Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, it’d be impossible for the Yankees to obtain draft pick compensation for Hamels if he were to depart as a free agent when his contract expires following the 2012 season. And signing Hamels long-term doesn’t seem realistic for a Yankees team that aims to avoid luxury tax penalties by 2014. Not only would Hamels command an annual salary of $20MM plus, the Yankees would have to surrender inexperienced (and affordable) players to pry the left-hander away from the Phillies.

The Yankees aren’t interested in Zack Greinke and don’t believe his personality would thrive in New York, Davidoff notes. Like Hamels, Greinke could sign an extension before the trade deadline. Cubs right-handers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are among the other possibilities for the Yankees. However, Cashman has said he’s skeptical about the chances of finding a deal that makes sense.