Though Cole Hamels hasn’t performed well over his past two starts, trade interest in him doesn’t appear to be dying down. Despite previous comments that put a damper on the Hamels-to-Rangers rumors for awhile, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers are “very much involved” in trade talks for Hamels, and they appear to be bidding about the Astros. That’s not the only Rangers/Hamels connection, either; Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Dodgers are the name he hears linked to Hamels most frequently, but the Rangers closely follow them.
Grant writes that while the Rangers do want to bolster their 2015 chances, a Hamels acquisition would be made with an eye toward pairing him atop their rotation with Yu Darsish in 2016-17. The Rangers have been said to dislike the notion of paying Hamels $23.5MM annually, so it seems likely that they’d ask for some kind of financial compensation, especially if they’re to part with top prospects in the deal. Joey Gallo wouldn’t exchange hands in a Hamels deal, Grant notes, listing outfielder Nomar Mazara and the injured-but-still-vaunted catching prospect Jorge Alfaro as likelier options. (Chi Chi Gonzalez’s name has also come up in speculative rumors in the past.)
Grant doesn’t get any indication of what the Astros might be willing to offer, but GM Jeff Luhnow has been vocal about acquiring a pitcher that could pitch in the first game or two of a playoff series. Hamels would fit that bill. Houston’s reportedly more comfortable parting with right-hander Mark Appel than with top outfield prospect Brett Phillips, and the team is said to be highly resistant to the idea of trading right-hander Lance McCullers. Even beyond McCullers, Phillips and the of-course-off-limits Carlos Correa, however, the Astros have a deep farm system that got even deeper with what most praised as a highly successful draft. While the players selected in this year’s draft are, of course, ineligible to be traded, the influx of talent might make Houston a bit more comfortable moving some of its preexisting young talent.
The Dodgers/Hamels connection has been persistent over the past few months. Los Angeles clearly has the financial wherewithal to absorb Hamels’ contract in its entirety, if the Phillies wish to go that route, though doing so would lessen the return that Philadelphia received in terms of prospects. To this point, it’s been reported that neither Corey Seager or Julio Urias is available in trades, and Peter Gammons reported yesterday that the Dodgers are also loath to part with promising young catcher Austin Barnes or right-hander Jose De Leon, whose stock continues to rapidly rise (both ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America ranked him among the game’s Top 25 prospects on their midseason updates.)