Cole Hamels Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Phillies Star

July 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Fan News

For the third straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies look like they’ll be watching October baseball from home. For the third straight season, that futility has raised questions about what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will do with his high-cost stars—specifically starter Cole Hamels

The 30-year-old starter again came into July with his name being bandied about in trade talks, as contenders look for ways to separate themselves in a clouded playoff picture. Among the teams most often linked to Hamels has been the Toronto Blue Jays, but Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports highlighted a no-trade clause in Hamels’ contract could prevent that from happening:

While he might prefer to play for a contender, there is little reason to think Hamels would waive his right to block a move to Toronto. With no less than four years remaining on his contract—there is a vesting option that could trigger a $20 million salary for 2019—any trade the Phillies make would not be a short-term move.

If Hamels were heading into free agency this winter, perhaps he’d be more receptive to a short-term trip up north. Players in the past have waived no-trade clauses under similar situations, and with the Blue Jays trying to keep themselves afloat in the AL playoff race, a short-term fix could have helped both sides.

Hamels’ contract complicates matters in that regard. He is less likely to be amenable to waiving his no-trade clause because any deal would require him to spend at least four years in a city where he does not wish to reside. Teams are also going to be skittish knowing the situation—and that’s without factoring in the considerable financial commitment.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted that the Yankees could be in play for Hamels if he becomes available, but even their interest is limited. Hamels is due annual salaries of $22.5 million for each of the next four seasons, per Baseball-Reference. There has been no indication on whether the Phillies would be open to eating some of that salary in exchange for better prospect compensation, though that seems like a possibility.

Even with his high cost, it’s not hard to see why teams are kicking the tires on a Hamels trade. A three-time All-Star, he is 2-5 this season but has posted a 2.98 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Other than a few minor blips to start the season, Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in the National League. He posted a 1.23 ERA in six June starts, highlighted by three consecutive scoreless outings.

The season has proven a carbon copy of 2013, in which Hamels went 8-14 despite solid peripheral numbers. The Phillies rank 27th or worse in runs, on-base percentage, batting average and slugging percentage. Run support has been non-existent throughout most of the season, a point of contention that Hamels admitted to reporters is frustrating:

It’s a team game, and even if [the hitters] are pressing too hard, then I’m pressing too hard. They like to win, and we’re all accustomed to winning, so when you’re not doing so, you want it and press instead of just going back to basics and playing simplified baseball. I’m probably a big culprit of it, trying to be too fine and not calming down.

Despite the recent frustrations, Hamels remains one of the most consistent starters in baseball. He’s pitched at least 200 innings each of the last four seasons and five of his last six. Though he battled through some issues at the beginning of 2014, his injury history is minimal. Hamels has made at least 28 starts every year since his rookie season.

When it comes to trading for Hamels, it’s a risk-reward situation. Being on the hook for upwards of $100 million is something few teams can even consider—let alone give up assets to make happen. With Hamels holding a no-trade clause against one of the few teams willing to deal, he and the Phillies might wind up stuck together again in a playoff-less October.


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