Cole Hamels Rumors: Red Sox Offers Weren’t Strong


Cole Hamels will be on the same field as the Red Sox on Opening Day, just perhaps not in the uniform that many anticipated he would be at the beginning of the off-season. The Phillies will host the Red Sox on April 6th to kick off the season for both clubs, with Hamels likely getting the ball in top half of the first, rather than the bottom half of the inning.

Barring a major Spring Training injury or a last second change in organizational philosophy, Cole Hamels being a seemingly perfect fit for the Red Sox will remain just an idea rather than a reality.

But what exactly was the hold-up that kept the 31 year-old from joining the very interested and ace-needy Red Sox? Well, a combination of things. First of all, despite going all-in to win now with the signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox don’t appear prepared to part with a substantial package of prospects, while likely having to guarantee Hamels’ $20 million option for 2019. Secondly, at least in theory, the Red Sox additions of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, with hopes that Clay Buchholz can pitch anywhere near the dominant level he was at in 2013, have given the Red Sox enough pitching to start the season with. If they are seriously in things in July, certainly adding a front of the line starter would be their biggest need, but they have enough to stay afloat until that time.

Still, the Red Sox would have loved to have added Hamels this off-season, but reportedly balked at giving up either (or both) outfielder Mookie Betts and top catching prospect Blake Swihart. Rightfully so, the Phillies didn’t back off of their high demands for one of the top young pieces in an impressive farm system to be involved in a trade.

But what exactly were the Red Sox willing to give up? According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, not much.

"1. Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies — General manager Ruben Amaro said last week that four teams had made offers for Hamels. One of them, according to a major league source, was the Red Sox. But what we’ve been able to piece together through various sources is that the package Boston offered was heavy on the major league side, trying to avoid giving up any of their top prospects. Suffice it to say, that won’t get you Hamels. The Phillies are insistent on prospects, and if they don’t get them now they’ll wait until the trade deadline when there might be more desperation by teams seeking to win."

It’s unclear exactly what major league players Boston could have even offered in a deal. Perhaps they pitched Jackie Bradley Jr., due to their outfield surplus, but a very slow start to his major league career has cooled his stock. Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino were probably thrown out as pieces just because of how many outfielders the Red Sox do have, but clearly not as headliners in the trade. And maybe Yoenis Cespedes, who was ultimately traded to the Tigers for Porcello, was talked about, but the Phillies reportedly had no interest in the impending free-agent. 

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Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine who else the Red Sox could have tried to sell on the deal. Maybe Clay Buchholz, but Ruben Amaro/Pat Gillick(/whoever is making the decisions now) would be run out of town if an injury-riddled Buchholz was one of the key pieces coming back for one of the best starters in franchise history.

Certainly, the Red Sox would have included some prospects with the major-leaguers offered, but it’s fair to wonder who. Starting pitcher Henry Owens is a good enough prospect in his own right to headline a deal, so it doesn’t appear that the Red Sox were even willing to move him. Or at least not with a package that would actually make the Phillies consider moving Hamels.

Opposing General Managers and league insiders spent a good amount of the off-season talking about how the Phillies were ‘unrealistic’ with their trade demands for Hamels, which they probably were, but all indications seem to point to the Red Sox also being in that same boat. The team has a loaded farm system and decided to lock themselves into contracts geared towards winning right now, yet they don’t appear willing to part with the necessary prospects to be considered a serious World Series contender. As I stated, they have enough to make it July. But at some point, the Red Sox are also going to have to get realistic in their pursuit of an ace, whether it is Hamels or another available arm.