After Cole Hamels was claimed by the Chicago Cubs on waivers mid-week last week, some people speculated that the Cubs, a team that has a loaded farm system, would be able to work out a deal to land the ace lefty. As things turned out, the two sides weren’t able to agree on a deal, largely because the Phillies reportedly targeted some of the Cubs MLB-ready prospects, like Javier Baez and Addison Russell, who the Cubs didn’t feel the need to part with.
The Cubs, who have taken their sweet time trying to build a team the right way, don’t have the need right now to give up any prospects who can help them to compete soon, because Jon Lester and Max Scherzer will both be available on the free-agent market this off-season, and won’t require moving prospects to sign.
Then again, the Cubs may have money, but so will four or five other teams. And those other teams, who Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pointed out as potential Hamels suitors in his column yesterday, might be more attractive to the free-agents, leading the Cubs back to Hamels at some point.
1. Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies — It will take four or five prospects to land him. The Cubs were unable to come up with a package to obtain him last week. The Phillies are asking for top prospects but the Cubs were unwilling to part with shortstop Addison Russell, who was obtained in the Jeff Sarmardzija deal to Oakland. The Rangers, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, and Angels are seen as the major players for him this offseason. The Phillies can use Hamels as the major player in their rebuilding efforts and will hold on until they receive their ransom.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d take Hamels over Scherzer and Lester at this moment. A year ago, especially in the case of Scherzer, things would be different. Hamels is having the best season out of the three in 2014, and while this might be his peak, he’s only guaranteed four more years on his deal after this year. The other two are looking at five to seven year deals, likely closer to seven than five, and are both the same age as Hamels.
Teams like the Angels, Rangers and Dodgers will likely weigh their options this off-season, and end up deciding that they can take on another big contract over taking on a medium length deal and giving up a boatload of prospects for Hamels. Whatever teams don’t decide that, or get outbid, could find themselves back talking to the Phillies in trade sweepstakes this off-season. The Cubs, if they should find themselves in that situation, would be smart to say thanks, but no thanks, but Theo Epstein could decide he has to make a splash.
I think from there, whether the Phillies are talking to the Cubs or any team, they need to be a little more realistic. First off, Hamels has never pitched the way that has this year. He’s a very good pitcher, who is pitching like an one of the top five pitchers in the game this year. There’s a case to be made for selling high. I just think two top prospects and another very good one, plus not having to eat any of Hamels deal, may be selling high.
If the Phillies were a year or two away from contending, then I could see that not being enough to move Hamels. The fact is, they aren’t. They are at least, at least, four or five years away from that. I like to embellish things sometimes, but in this case, I don’t think I am when I ponder if the Phillies are actually seven or eight years away from being a playoff team as things are currently constructed. If they could move Hamels for MLB-ready prospects, free up a good amount of money to chase another pitcher in a few years, then maybe that number is more like four or five. But as long as the Phillies ask for four or five prospects for Hamels, they are a lot more away four or five years away from competing again.