Phillies Rumors: Cole Hamels Could Nix Trade to Astros


Could the Philadelphia Phillies move Cole Hamels to the Houston Astros? Maybe, but maybe not. 

Two weeks ago, I suggested that the Houston Astros could be a team to watch as the Philadelphia Phillies looked to move their ace Cole Hamels this summer. Many pointed out at that time that Hamels could prove to be too expensive for a team like the Astros, but a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford that suggested that the Phillies were willing to eat even more of Hamels’ deal than they previously were seems to have put teams like the Astros back in the mix for the 31 year-old lefty.

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says that the 34-21 Astros, who have a comfortable lead in the American League West, seem intent on adding an ace-type pitcher at this July’s trade deadline.

"The Houston Astros, surprise early first-place residents in the AL West, could pull a trade surprise, as well. The Astros are targeting a top-of-the-rotation starter, and while Cole Hamels probably remains something of a long shot for them, executives familiar with their thinking suggest Hamels remains on their radar, with Astros great Nolan Ryan said to be a big fan of his.The Phillies’ overt willingness to significantly pay down the money on Hamels’ deal also could aid Houston’s chances, as the Astros aren’t inclined to pay any one player $24 million annually but possess the type of prospects to give them trading power. But even if they can’t get Hamels – remember, he has a 20-team no-trade list that includes them — the Astros, who currently carry the best record in the AL and are maybe a year or two ahead of their own schedule for serious contention, are said to be intent on adding someone who qualifies as a frontline starter, not just rotation filler."

Heyman also cites the fact that Ed Wade, who served as the Astros General Manager from September 2008 to November 2011, is a special consultant in the Phillies organization currently, which could help to facilitate a trade on many levels.

All this said, the Astros are one of the 21 teams on Hamels’ no-trade clause, something that he hasn’t shied away from using. Heyman previously reported that Hamels’ disinterest kept talks from getting of the ground with the Blue Jays, and one of Heyman’s sources thinks he could do the same in this case.

"However, there’s a catch: while Hamels is a clear fit for Houston, one person close to Hamels suggested he didn’t think it was necessarily likely Hamels would accept a deal to Houston, despite their impressive start and wildly improving future. And although while that person suggested he didn’t believe Houston would “float his boat,” that person added this caveat: “But you never know.”"

In many aspects, the Astros are a surprise team. And some advanced metrics suggest that the idea that they will continue to perform this way with their current lineup is far-fetched. The good part for them is that even if they moved some players in a trade like this, they still have an impressive farm system. But Hamels may not want to bank on prospects panning out.

Look at it this way: let’s pretend in 2010 the Phillies weren’t good and Hamels had this same opportunity to go to the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds made the playoffs that year, and propelled by young talent like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, looked as though that was the first of many trips. Needless to say after watching the last few nights, that hasn’t tuned out to be the case for the Reds.

It’s not that Hamels probably wouldn’t seriously consider an option like this if it comes down to this or staying with the Phillies, but for him to encourage it in early June probably isn’t in his best interests. From his side of things, he’d probably rather go to a bigger market team like the Boston Red Sox, even if they aren’t necessarily on the path to having a better future than the Astros.

Next: Phillies Willing to eat More of Cole Hamels' Salary in Trades