7:27pm: Then again, a source tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link) that it’s “not accurate” to say the sides have discussed Hamels.
Of course, the Nats do have someone on hand to watch Hamels in action tonight, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. The Braves, Cubs, Phillies, Yankees, and Diamondbacks do as well.
7:15pm: The Nationals are the latest team with some level of interest in Rangers lefty Cole Hamels, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Those two organizations are said to have engaged in “trade discussions,” though there’s no indication that a deal is particularly close.
It’s not surprising to see the Nats angling to deepen their rotation and Hamels is certainly a pitcher with whom the organization is familiar. Of course, it’s also a bit interesting to hear of this particular connection given a rather notable run-in between Hamels and the D.C. ballclub, though that was some years ago.
After a strong outing on June 19th, Hamels owned a 3.41 ERA. After four sub-optimal times out, though, he’s all the way up to a 4.36 mark that arguably better reflects his true talent level at this stage of an outstanding career.
On the one hand, Hamels is back to generating a strikeout per nine after a big fall-off in 2017. On the other, he’s giving up home runs on 20.2% of the flyballs put in play against him. ERA estimators mostly view Hamels as a solid hurler — he’s at a 5.06 FIP, 4.11 xFIP, and 4.06 SIERA this year — but there’s not much reason to believe that Hamels is the top-line starter he once was.
Perhaps there’s some added appeal in the fact that Hamels has a long history of good work in the postseason, even if his most recent appearance — a 2016 dud for the Rangers — did not go as hoped. All told, he has thrown 98 1/3 innings of 3.48 ERA ball over 16 playoff starts. Hamels was also named the MVP of the 2008 World Series.
Contract will play a major role in the market for Hamels. He’s earning $22.5MM this year, a hefty rate for a sub-elite starter. He’s also due a $6MM buyout on a $20MM club option for 2019. Increasingly, it seems likely he’ll end up receiving the break-up fee.
Hamels can block trades to twenty teams, but the Nats are not among them. Neither are the division-rival Braves. The Atlanta organization has been linked loosely to Hamels in the recent past. Morosi suggests the Braves are indeed at least taking a look, though it’s not clear if there’s serious interest.