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Cole Hamels Rumors
The Phillies are guaranteed to go into the All-Star break in the NL East basement, as even a win over the first-place Nationals today will leave Philadelphia with only a 43-52 record from the opening half. There has already been a lot of speculation about what the club’s selling plans are for the trade deadline so here’s the latest from the City of Brotherly Love…
- While there’s certainly a case to be made for trading Cole Hamels, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out that moving the star lefty would leave the Phils’ rotation very thin for 2015. Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez are free agents, A.J. Burnett could decline his player option and Cliff Lee could be traded as well, so if Hamels goes, the Phillies would have to rebuild an entire rotation around David Buchanan.
- The Phillies’ farm system is thin on talent that can quickly help the Major League roster, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that hitting talent is a particular need, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “There are not enough offensive players in our system,” Amaro said during an interview last week. “We feel we need to do better than that, and it certainly is something that is a priority for us.”
- Jonathan Papelbon shouldn’t be faulted for his recent comments about not wanting to play for a non-contender, the Inquirer’s Bob Ford opines, and he wonders if Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins share the same sentiment. The two players’ status as longtime franchise cornerstones makes their situation different than Papelbon’s, though “it would be tough to see them go, but perhaps tougher to see them stay, delaying the overdue rebuilding and eating up payroll flexibility as the team limps along,” Ford writes.
The Nationals are crossing their fingers after All-Star starter Jordan Zimmermann left today’s start with a right arm issue. Initial indications were positive, as the club said that Zimmermann was experiencing a biceps cramp and that hopes are it is not a serious issue, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington reports on Twitter.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- The Mets have not fielded much interest lately in second baseman Daniel Murphy, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. A club official also told Puma that trade talks have generally been rather quiet.
- Having “hit rock bottom,” it is time for the Phillies to deal, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). Olney posits that pitchers Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon could hold appeal to larger-payroll clubs, outfielder Marlon Byrd would draw interest given the dearth of available power bats, Chase Utley would be a good match for the Athletics or Giants. The market is shaping up well for Philly, Olney says, with the recent spate of significant injuries.
- While some have suggested that Phillies lefty Cole Hamels could be had by the Yankees, in part by a willingness to take on his substantial salary, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that is highly unlikely. The Phillies would only deal Hamels if one of the pieces coming back (among others) was a solid, young starter that could slot right into the rotation, says Murphy, and that is something New York cannot offer.
The two-year anniversary is approaching of the pre-trade deadline extension signed between the Phillies and lefty Cole Hamels. As part of that six-year, $144MM deal, Hamels received a limited no-trade clause, the details of which had gone unreported.
Now, with Hamels a potential trade target, details have emerged regarding the clause, via Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (links to Twitter). Hamels is permitted to designate twenty of the league’s thirty clubs for no-trade protection, reports Morosi. The remaining nine teams (other than the Phillies) to which Hamels may be traded without his consent are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Padres.
It is difficult to say what this means for the possible Hamels market, should Philly make him available. In some respects, the mere fact that the club would need to consult with the pitcher to send him to any one of twenty clubs could pose a deterrent. On the other hand, his list could conceivably indicate a willingness to go to a contender, as it seems to be composed of teams that were expected to be in the mix (in addition to those that, as Morosi notes, are located near his native southern California).
Here are the latest trade deadline news and rumors from around the game …
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that the club’s next ten games will help decide how the club navigates the trade deadline, per an interview transcript from Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. “We’ve been assessing this thing and will continue to do so all the way through this month,” he said. Amaro said that he has had “tons” of conversations, mostly to feel out needs, and that his focus is on improving the club’s production at the plate. “On our side, we’re looking for some offense, we’re looking for some younger players, we’re looking for some things that can help us short term and long term,” said Amaro. “As far as the other teams are concerned, some of them know exactly what they want, but most of them don’t. I mean, there’s still a lot of time. A lot of injuries can happen, there’s a lot of different things that can happen with some of these teams moving forward.” In terms of the club’s timeline, Amaro reiterated that he is not interested in a complete tear-down, but said that, “if we have to go a step backward for a year or two to move forward then that’s what we’ll try to do.”
- One theoretically possible Phillies trade chip — catcher Carlos Ruiz — has suffered a concussion that Amaro calls “a little more serious than we originally thought,” as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Since signing a three-year, $26MM deal in the offseason, the 35-year-old has produced a .257/.33/.357 triple-slash through 273 plate appearances.
- It remains to be seen whether or not Phillies starter Cole Hamels is shopped at all. But if he is, the Blue Jays would only be able to acquire him if he waived his no-trade protection, as they are one of the teams on his list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Rival officials are skeptical that the Royals have freedom to add payroll, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the club would be able to take on salary to bolster the roster for a postseason push.
- The Padres have fielded trade interest in outfielders Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Nevertheless, the club’s most asked-about pieces to date have been back-end relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit.
- Heyman also reports that the Rays have set a high asking price for David Price in discussions with the Dodgers, with Tampa seeking multiple elite prospects. Heyman argues that giving up more than one of the club’s five best youngsters — he includes Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, Chris Anderson, and Zach Lee — would be a mistake for Los Angeles.
The Blue Jays continue to scout Jeff Samardzija, as pro scouting director Perry Minasian was in attendance for yesterday’s outing against the Reds, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Much of the chatter regarding Samardzija to this point has included speculation when it comes to Chicago’s asking price, but Morosi hears “strong indications” that the Cubs would deal Samardzija for a package highlighted by right-hander Aaron Sanchez, left-hander Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey.
Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that he won’t include all three of those prospects in a deal for Samardzija or any other available pitcher — even David Price — according to Morosi’s report. He also notes that as much as the Blue Jays like Samardzija, they may prefer Price and Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels (though the latter isn’t guaranteed to be available).
The Blue Jays reluctance to deal three of their top prospects lines up with previous indicators that they may be more interested in rental players than controllable players due to a strong desire to preserve some of their farm system. Toronto has dealt away some notable prospect value — including Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez and Anthony DeSclafani — to acquire the likes of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. One thing we do know is that Anthopoulos feels he will have ownership’s blessing to expand the team’s payroll if necessary.
As for the three prospects listed by Morosi, Sanchez entered the season with the highest stock of the bunch but has seen his star lose some of its luster after struggling to a 4.08 ERA and issuing 48 walks in 75 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Norris, on the other hand, has been electric, turning in a combined 1.62 ERA and 4.47 K/BB ratio in 72 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Pompey ranked just 17th among Toronto prospects (per Baseball America) prior to the season but has boosted his value with a strong .312/.392/.460 batting line, six homers and 27 steals (in 29 attempts).
Dan Jennings was a guest on MLB Network Radio’s Front Office show this morning, and the Marlins GM told hosts Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (as per Bowden’s Twitter account) that owner Jeffrey Loria is willing to “open the checkbook” to make additions before the trade deadline. Miami began the season with one of the league’s lowest payrolls at just under $46MM, yet despite losing ace Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery, the Fish began the day just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. The Marlins could be looking to take advantage of their surprising good form, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that Miami has been as aggressive as any team in scouting for upgrades.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- The Braves likely won’t be involved in the bidding for the Rays‘ David Price or the Cubs‘ Jeff Samardzija, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The team is already over budget and still has a solid starting rotation, despite the loss of Gavin Floyd.
- The easiest way for the Phillies to rebuild would be to trade Cole Hamels, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Despite Hamels’ big contract (he is owed approximately $107.5MM through the end of the 2019 season), he is younger and carries fewer health question marks than other veteran Phillies who could be available in trades. “If I were in their boat, I’d really hate to move [Hamels],” a rival executive tells Brookover. “But if you go back to question about which player is going to bring you the most value, you’re going to get the most for that guy. You have to get the most you can for a guy like that. If you don’t, you keep him. But you’re only going to get 1.5 pieces for someone else when you could get a lot more than that for him.”
- When Travis d’Arnaud returns this week, the Mets have the choice of either optioning Anthony Recker to Triple-A or exposing Taylor Teagarden to waivers, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. Also, Teagarden has the option of becoming a free agent if he is outrighted again. Rubin explores several factors in the decision, such as whether the Mets would mind losing Teagarden, and the effect this roster move could have on catching prospect Kevin Plawecki‘s development.
Though they're in the market for a shortstop, the Mets have zero intention of parting with Noah Syndergaard in able to make a trade happen, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. New York has been connected to both Nick Franklin and the Diamondbacks' shortstop surplus (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings). One scout that Heyman spoke with said Syndergaard is better than Zack Wheeler. Here are some more NL East items…
- The Braves announced today that Kris Medlen underwent successful Tommy John surgery yesterday, with Dr. James Andrews performing the operation. The Braves will be without Medlen for the season, but the signing of Ervin Santana will help to offset that loss to a degree. Atlanta is currently waiting to learn Brandon Beachy's fate, but Tommy John looks like the probable outcome there as well.
- Cole Hamels threw a 40- to 45-pitch bullpen session this morning and reported that he felt great afterward, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Hamels said he feels that his strength is up to 90 percent. He'll face hitters in live batting practice on Saturday and do so once more before getting into game action. At that point, writes Salisbury, he'll need roughly a month to be ready for the season, meaning the loose target for his return is still May 1.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that Jimmy Rollins wasn't shaken by a report from ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday which stated that some in the Phillies organization feel he needs to be traded as soon as possible. Said Rollins: "It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said, I can’t be traded." GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called the report "absolute silliness," repeatedly stating that no one in the organization has a problem with Rollins.
- Manny Delcarmen spoke with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore about his comeback from an elbow injury that has kept him out of the Majors since 2010. Delcarmen said that following the 2010 season, three doctors told him he needed a second Tommy John surgery before Dr. James Andrews said otherwise. Andrews offered Delcarmen a platelet-rich plasma injection and recommended months of rest, cautioning that his velocity was unlikely to return for quite some time. Delcarmen's velocity has slowly returned from sitting at 88 mph when he began pitching again all the way up to 93-95 mph in Spring Training with the Nats. He's likely to open the season in the minors but could see time with the big league club in the event of an injury after an impressive spring, says Kilgore.
Cole Hamels' scheduled throwing session was canceled today, as the Phillies' co-ace reported feeling a fatigued arm that wouldn't allow him to go through the throwing motion as he normally would, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Hawkins. Said Hamels: "My body is telling me,'Hey, you’ve got to take a step back and start over.'" The outlook for Hamels isn't great, as Hawkins reports that he is now likely to miss the entire month of April. Hamels said a cortisone injection or MRI is unlikely, as all the tests he's done have checked out. Hawkins' article is chock-full of Hamels quotes for Phillies fans and interested parties. Here's more on Hamels' situation and the Phillies…
- Hawkins' colleague Corey Seidman looks at the Phils' options to fill out their rotation in the wake of Hamels' setback. Seidman notes that Ethan Martin has been shut down with shoulder inflammation, and Jonathan Pettibone is also dealing with shoulder pain. Adam Morgan and Shane Watson each had shoulder surgery this offseason. Seidman calls Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez locks for the rotation and says the battle for the fifth spot comes down to Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, David Buchanan, Jeff Manship and Sean O'Sullivan. He lists left-hander Mario Hollands as a darkhorse candidate as well.
- Manager Ryne Sandberg tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Phillies will utilize defensive shifts more frequently in 2014 and have already been working on it in Spring Training. As Gelb writes, the Phillies shifted fewer than 28 of baseball's 30 teams in 2013 and graded out as the worst defensive club in baseball last year, per Baseball Info Solutions. Said Sandberg: "It's something that's grown, and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that's something to think about and apply."
The Phillies have been involved in a handful of rumors this week in Orlando, as reports surfaced suggesting that the team is open to moving Domonic Brown, as well as aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. However, it sounds like the price tags on any of those players would be extremely high, reducing the likelihood of a deal. Here's the latest on the Phillies:
- One club told Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that the possibility of attaching Brown to Jonathan Papelbon in a trade is in play for the Phillies. In that scenario, Philadephia would use the savings to pursue starting pitching help.
- Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly spoke to a few people who have "knowledge of the inner workings" of the team, and received mixed reactions on whether the Phillies would really move Lee or Hamels. One source called the rumors a "smokescreen" while another suggested the club might trade Lee, but not Hamels.
- For his part, GM Ruben Amaro called the Lee and Hamels rumors "silly," according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.
- Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com wonders if the Angels' trade of Mark Trumbo might provide a blueprint for the Phillies and Brown, considering both players are corner outfielders with big bats and limited defensive value.
- The Phillies are satisfied with their offense and aren't looking to make significant additions, but David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that everything will have to break right for it to be an impact lineup.
10:20am: ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the only way the Phillies would move Hamels or Lee would be in a "win-win" situation in which they receivea huge return and shed the entirety of the remaining salary. In other words, a trade is unlikely.
8:18am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also hears that both Philadelphia aces are in play, but the Phillies won't eat any of the remaining money on either contract (Twitter link).
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is apparently being quite open-minded at this year's Winter Meetings, as he's also said to be "actively shopping" Domonic Brown on the heels of Brown's 2013 breakout. Given the number of teams looking to acquire established pitchers, adding Hamels and/or Lee to a market that already includes David Price and Jeff Samardzija would give interested teams more options to choose from.
Hamels will be 30 at the end of this month and is guaranteed $112.5MM through the 2018 season ($22.5MM annually) with a $24MM vesting option for 2019. Though he started the season slowly, the left-hander posted a very Hamels-like 2.73 ERA from June 1 through season's end, finishing with a 3.60 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
Lee, 35, will earn $25MM in each of the next two seasons and has a $27.5MM vesting option for the 2016 campaign. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 222 2/3 innings, giving him a league-leading 6.94 K/BB ratio.