Cole Hamels Rumors
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.
The Phillies are willing to listen to offers on any players except Domonic Brown, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. That includes Cliff Lee, though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s preference is to hang onto him, and he'd need to be blown away to move his ace left-hander.
The Phillies view Hamels' poor season as an aberration, according to Salisbury, and their desire is for Hamels and Lee to front their rotation in 2014. Utley, of course, is said to be working on an extension with the Phillies, and Brown has emerged as the young power bat that the Phillies have hoped he could become.
Boston is currently the most interested team in Lee's services, according to Salisbury, and their interest dates back to the offseason when they were told he wasn't available. Salisbury adds that the Red Sox's reluctance to part with Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley Jr. makes it likely that Lee will likely remain with the Phillies beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Recent reports have indicated that Lee would require three or four top prospects to acquire, though at least one NL executive speculated that he did think Lee would be traded.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox continue to show interest in Michael Young, and Salisbury writes that Jonathan Papelbon is "very much available" as well. He notes that the Tigers' interest in Papelbon had cooled even before their acquisition of Jose Veras on Monday, so there may no longer be a fit between the two sides.
The Phillies have struggled to stay competitive this season and have been rumored to be a trade deadline seller for weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't plan on moving his most valuable pitching assets. Amaro told reporters (including ESPN's Jayson Stark) on Friday that he has "no desire to trade those guys. At all," referring to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon.
"My job is to try and put a contending team on the field every year, and we have a much better chance to be a contending team with both of those guys on the club," Amaro said. "If we have those guys at the top of our rotation, we're a better club. ... It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I'm concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win."
The general manager didn't draw the line at any midseason moves, noting that "We have plenty of people to trade" and that "four or five guys come off the payroll" after the season, which could give the Phils more flexibility. It could also seem to hint that four of Philadelphia's pending free agents (Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Michael Young) could be trade bait in July, though Young is the only one of the quartet who isn't on the DL, and Halladay's and Ruiz's injuries have greatly diminished -- if not destroyed -- their trade value.
Amaro didn't rule out bringing any of those free agents back in 2014 but noted that moves would still be made with an eye towards contending next season rather than beginning a rebuilding process.
"Whether you're talking about retooling or rewrapping or taking a different direction, I think there are ways we can do that," Amaro said. "But when you start talking about blowing it up, you're basically saying you're going to start from scratch. And that's not happening."
Dealing Lee (owed at least $78MM through the 2015 season) or Papelbon (roughly $33.6MM owed through 2015 with a $13MM vesting option for 2016) would count as sign that the Phillies were taking a step back to reload, and dealing Hamels (who just signed a six-year, $144MM extension last July) would count as the first step towards a major rebuild. Lee said yesterday that he wanted to play for a contender and that while his preference was to do so in Philadelphia, winning was his top priority. Lee has a partial no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to block a deal to 20 teams each season.
Here's the latest from around the NL East...
- Cole Hamels wouldn't have signed an extension with the Phillies unless he thought the team would continue to contend, the southpaw tells CBS Sports' Scott Miller. "I was very comfortable with making the decision [to re-sign] because I do know what they're going to do and what it takes to win," Hamels said. "I've experienced it first hand.”
- Chris Young and Micah Owings have both had impressive springs for the Nationals but will be hard-pressed to win jobs on the largely-settled Nats roster, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes. Owings needs regular at-bats to help in his transition from pitching to first base but the Nationals are deep at both first and in the outfield at both the Major League and Triple-A levels. As for Young, he can opt out of his minor league deal with Washington if he isn't on the big league roster by March 24.
- The Nationals' depth is also explored in the latest mailbag piece from MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as he notes that the club wants to hold onto Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa as backup options.
- Ladson also says the Nationals have no interest in Kyle Lohse unless one of their starting pitchers gets injured, and even then, they would only sign Lohse to a one-year deal. As I noted in my recent examination of the Lohse market, the Nats are a real longshot to sign the veteran righty, and probably wouldn't be considered candidates at all were it not for the club's relationship with Scott Boras, Lohse's agent.
- The Marlins still have a lot of decisions to make about the composition of their 25- and 40-man rosters, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Ben Nicholson-Smith compiled some Phillies notes and Tim Dierkes continued the Offseason In Review series with a look at the Mets.
AUGUST 1: ESPN's Buster Olney has the salary breakdown (Twitter link). Hamels received a $6MM signing bonus and will earn $19.5MM in 2013. His annual salary from 2014-2018 will be $22.5MM. The option for 2019 can vest at $24MM, or the club can exercise it at $20MM with a $6MM buyout. All told, the contract could be worth up to $158MM across seven years.
JULY 25: The Phillies announced that they have signed Cole Hamels to a six-year contract extension worth at least $144MM. The contract, which includes limited no-trade protection for Hamels, includes an option for a seventh year.
Hamels' extension will be the second-largest contract ever for a pitcher, trailing only C.C. Sabathia's seven-year, $161MM agreement with the Yankees. Hamels obtains the largest extension for any pitcher in history, surpassing Johan Santana's $137.5MM deal with the Mets. Hamels obtains the same average $24MM annual value as teammate Cliff Lee, who signed a five-year, $120MM contract with Philadelphia two offseason ago.
The 2019 option is either a club option at $20MM or a vesting option at $24MM, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. The option vests if three conditions are met: Hamels is not on the disabled list with a left shoulder or elbow injury at the end of the 2018 season, and he pitches 200 innings in 2018, and he pitches 400 innings in 2017-2018 combined. If the club exercises its option, Hamels will earn $158MM over seven years. If the option vests, he'll earn $162MM over seven years ($1MM more than Sabathia).
Hamels, 28, has a 3.23 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 133 2/3 innings for the Phillies this year. He averaged 31 starts and 206 innings per season from 2007-11, his five first seasons in Philadelphia's rotation. Agent John Boggs represents Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP. The contract covers his age 29-34 seasons.
If Hamels had reached free agency, the California native would have drawn interest from many teams, including, perhaps, the Dodgers. Instead, teams looking to sign starting pitchers this coming offseason will set their sights on the likes of Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson.
The Phillies now have three starters earning $20MM per season: Hamels, Lee and Roy Halladay. As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports, there had never been a team with two $20MM per season starters until the 2012 Phillies took the field (Twitter link).
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the sides were nearing an extension, ESPN.com's Buster Olney first reported the agreement, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the terms of the deal and Tim Dierkes of MLBTR first reported the details of the 2019 option. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Besides the Angels and Brewers themselves, perhaps no team was as impacted by the Zack Greinke trade as the Rangers. Here's the latest on the Rangers' own pursuit of Greinke and how they plan to counter the Angels' newest salvo in the battle for the AL West.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that the Rangers were the other finalist for Greinke's services. The Rangers offered Leury Garcia, Chad Bell and Justin Grimm to the Brewers.
- Had the Rangers been willing to include third base prospect Mike Olt in their offer to the Brewers, Greinke probably would've ended up in Texas, USA Today's Bob Nightengale. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, however, reports the Brewers wanted Martin Perez and didn't "insist" on Olt or Jurickson Profar, though Texas still felt the requested package of prospects was too much (both links are to Twitter).
- With Greinke gone, the Rangers won't necessarily try to acquire Josh Johnson or James Shields, a source tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Marlins and Rays have put a high price tag on their aces and the Rangers may wait to see if they lower their demands. Sullivan notes that if the Rangers weren't willing to deal the likes of Olt for Greinke, they wouldn't trade him or other top prospects for another pitcher who they didn't value as highly.
- The Rangers also valued Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee more than they did Greinke, reports Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Hamels just signed an extension to remain in Philadelphia and the Rangers shied away from the large salary still owed to Lee through the 2015 season.
- The Rangers are "unlikely" to get Johnson, while they're still in play for Shields, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes weighed in on the modern-day trade deadline dynamic with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The non-stop nature of online trade chatter can get in the way of certain trades and facilitate others, Towers said. Here are some assorted rumors with four days to go before the trade deadline...
- The Athletics aren’t presently in the mix for Marco Scutaro, but they could pursue him if other options don’t materialize, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter).
- Before he signed his six-year, $144MM extension, Cole Hamels told Yahoo’s Jeff Passan that he’d give pitchers big money, but not long-term contracts. "I'd only give three or four years, but I'd give 'em $25 or $30 million," Hamels said. Fortunately for him, Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies were willing to go beyond four years.
- Many teams would be willing to trade two Major League bats to acquire Joel Hanrahan, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. The Pirates could rely on Brad Lincoln and/or Jason Grilli in high-leverage, late-inning situations if they trade Hanrahan.
There's little doubt that the Rangers are once again one of MLB's best teams -- if not the best. Texas entered Tuesday's action with the second-best winning percentage and best run differential in MLB. Now, they're looking to fortify their team for the stretch run and into the postseason, and they're armed with a wealth of prospects whom they could use to push through a blockbuster deal. Here's the latest:
Considering the Rangers' recent history in the World Series, and the fact that they're facing the very real possibility of Josh Hamilton departing as a free agent in the offseason, one AL personnel exec said he'd be shocked if Texas didn't make a move for a top-of-the-rotation starter such as Cole Hamels or Josh Johnson, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). We already heard earlier today that the Rangers would be willing to acquire Hamels without the added complication of working out a contract extension.
Similarly, the Rangers are focused on acquiring a starting pitcher, such as Hamels or Zack Greinke, who can be a "difference-maker" for them once they reach the postseason, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas won't let the prospect of losing the draft pick attached to an outgoing free agent thwart their plans to acquire such a starter, adds Sullivan. In other words, it sounds like they're fine with acquiring a rental type. One alternative, though, would be "fortifying the bullpen" and deploying Alexi Ogando as a starter.
In addition to Hamels, Greinke and Johnson, the Rangers are also "in the mix" for Rays right-hander James Shields, and they would also be interested in reacquiring Phillies lefty Cliff Lee if he's made available, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter links). The latter scenario, however, appears unlikely, Rosenthal adds.
We can't say for sure how things will shake out, but the Rangers certainly look like as strong a candidate as anyone to make a splash for one of the premium pitchers on the trade market before the deadline.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, an impending free agent, headlines a strong group of starting pitchers who could be traded before next week's deadline. But while Hamels may be dealt, there's also a chance he could re-sign with the Phils, the only team for which he's played. Here's the latest:
- The Phillies at least floated the idea of a six-year, $140MM extension to Cole Hamels, a rival MLB official told Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Hamels hasn't said 'yes,' which increases the likelihood of a trade, as Sherman points out. The Phillies offered Hamels six years and about $135MM, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter). The left-hander is still trying to decide whether to accept the offer or hit free agency.
- The Rangers won't insist upon negotiating a contract extension with Hamels should they get deep into trade discussions with the Phillies, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- There has been some progress between the sides, which has prompted optimism within the Phillies that a deal can get done, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. But obstacles remain to hammering out a deal.
- The Phils and Hamels are working to bring discussions to a head so that they can proceed accordingly, a source tells Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
7:22am: The sides are expected to announce an agreement Wednesday, Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Phillies have had a six-year offer worth $135MM-plus on the table since the weekend, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter).
12:25am: The Phillies and Cole Hamels are close to completing a six-year contract extension worth more than $137.5MM according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It will be the second largest contract ever given to a pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia's seven-year, $161MM pact with the Yankees.
This post was first published on Wednesday, July 25th.