Stars aligning for Red Sox to make offseason run at Cole Hamels


Around the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, no serious trade talks between the Phillies and Red Sox ever surfaced, but numerous reporters (mainly Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe) continued to pass along that the Phillies were ‘heavily’ scouting the Red Sox farm system. I continue to think that both organizations had the Winter meetings on their mind as a target date to, at the very least, discuss one Cole Hamels.

While his record won’t indicate it, and the Phillies being about as irrelevant as it gets in 2014 has kept him from getting his due credit, Hamels is having the finest season of a very good big league career in 2014. He’s posted a career low 2.56 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and a 5.2 WAR.

If you remember, I was critical of Hamels’ down season in 2013 due to the massive extension that he had signed in July of 2012, but he’s shut me up-at least temporarily-in 2014.

Despite the fact that Hamels has peaked in 2014, and might be the best lefty in the game not named Kershaw or Sale, keeping an expensive 30 year-old with a good amount of trade value makes less and less sense for the Phillies everyday, and as delusional as they’ve been over the past few seasons, it’s hard to imagine that Ruben Amaro and company won’t come to that same realization this offseason.

Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan suggested as much 10 days ago, when he said this.

"1. Cole Hamels will be wearing a different uniform next season. Amaro told Philadelphia reporters Monday that he planned on overhauling his roster this offseason, which is all well and good in a fantasy land where opposing teams agree to pay full freight for the overpaid boondoggles with which he has saddled the Phillies."

Passan also suggested that Hamels 20 team no-trade clause, in which he surprisingly didn’t block trades to teams like the Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers (teams that could actually afford to trade for him), can be changed year-to-year, and likely will look a little different come this offseason.

All that said, Cafardo suggested last month that Hamels ‘would be open to a trade to the Red Sox’, so their is no guarantee that if he alters his no-trade clause he will put the Red Sox as one of his blocked teams. Even if he does, it would likely just be a bargaining chip should any potential trade present itself.

Yesterday, Tom Werner, Red Sox chairman, joined WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan, and made it sound like the Red Sox plan to make numerous big moves this offseason, which seems to re-open the idea of Hamels heading to Fenway.

"“The one thing that I think that trade that we made with the Dodgers [in 2013] gave us was extreme flexibility. We know we have to add some front-line talent. We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve. I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of [Rusney] Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent."

Obviously the names of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and Jeff Samardzija will be available through the free-agent market, but it’s very reasonable to think that the Red Sox could only end up with one of these names-if that-which certainly wouldn’t be enough to assure their return to World Series contention in 2015.

Trying to project exactly how a trade between the two teams, which would occur months from now, would actually be completed, would be a waste of your time. What is worth noting, is that back in July, I looked at some of the names that could be in play if the Phillies decided to move Hamels to Boston. Those names haven’t changed. 

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  • What has changed is with the additions of Yoenis Cespedes and Rusney Castillo, the Red Sox appear to have two thirds of the starting outfield for 2015 settled. While that opens up the idea of Jackie Bradley Jr. and/or Mookie Betts being one of the biggest names potentially included in a Phillies’ trade return for Hamels (please, no on Bradley), it also means that players like Allen Craig and Daniel Nava could be throw-in pieces in the deal.

    While Craig or Nava aren’t the type of pieces that make you want to trade perhaps the third-best pitcher in franchise history, they could be thrown into the deal on top of two or three top prospects, in a deal that might ultimately be the best offer the Phillies get for Hamels.

    For that to even happen, and for Hamels to be traded as the franchise tries to do their best to hit the reset button this offseason, the Phillies organization needs to leave, as Passan called it, ‘fantasy land’. They aren’t getting five top prospects for a 30 year-old lefty, who is really good-but not Kershaw good-and still has $96 million left on his deal after this year. They have to budge somewhere.

    But make no mistake, the budge has to come this offseason. It should have came at the 2012 trade deadline, but that’s a moot point now. Hamels will be 31 this offseason, and without moving him, the Phillies are in a seeming seven or eight (that’s not really an exaggeration) year holding pattern, waiting for bad contracts to expire and their farm system to be replenished. Holding onto Cole Hamels because you ‘want him to be the face of your team when you return to contention in 2017 or 2018’, is living in fantasy land.