The Cole Hamels saga has been an ongoing storyline throughout the entire offseason, as the rebuilding Phillies have begun to move Major League assets with an eye on bolstering their farm system. However, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he doesn’t expect to trade his ace before Opening Day:
“I think Cole Hamels is going to be in our uniform, frankly. I don’t really foresee him being moved. It is possible because we’re literally keeping our minds and eyes and ears open on every player that we have on our roster. That said, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. And so, if we were to move him, we’re going to have to get some of the best prospects in baseball back.”
While Amaro of course doesn’t completely rule out a trade of Hamels, his comments certainly throw some cold water on recent rumors connecting him to the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cardinals. (Of course, Texas was expected to be out of the picture anyhow following its acquisition of Yovani Gallardo.)
Some will undoubtedly read this as posturing on Amaro’s behalf in order to drive up the potential asking price for Hamels, but there’s little pressure to deal away the 31-year-old ace at this time as opposed to in July. In fact, come July, there could be fewer names available on the trade market. For instance, while many will speculate for the time being that both Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are available following the Nationals’ signing of Max Scherzer, that’s not likely to be the case come July.
Indeed, Amaro tells Kaplan that not only does he feel no pressure to move Hamels, but the Phillies’ ownership group would prefer to keep Hamels rather than trade him. Additionally, the GM notes that talks regarding Hamels have not escalated since this past weekend’s activity, which saw Scherzer agree to terms with the Nats and Texas acquire Gallardo.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has reported recently that while the Phillies have been seriously entertaining Hamels offers, the situation won’t come down to simply accepting the highest bid. Rather, Amaro has steadfastly held to his demand for a package fronted by a pair of elite young talents, presumably in addition to other, lesser-regarded pieces.
Of course, while further waiting on a Hamels trade increases the likelihood that an injury will sap his trade value, it also decreases the financial cost of Hamels’ contract and could very well create new buyers. Teams that don’t figure to have room or need for Hamels at the moment could find themselves with significant rotation injuries come summer time, and teams that didn’t fancy themselves true contenders could be in the playoff mix at that juncture as well.