Well, it is Trade Deadline week, so I should have expected it – the rumor mill really blew up today, and that’s setting aside the Darwin Barney trade, the new Rusney Castillo stuff, and a lot of the Jon Lester stuff …
- In what might be the biggest news of the day, in terms of trade rumors, Jon Morosi reports that after weeks of intransigence, the Phillies are now making lefty Cole Hamels available. Sources say the price is high, and the teams most likely to get him are the Dodgers and Cardinals (Morosi). Each would be highly interesting, for separate reasons: (1) getting Hamels and his $22.5 million salary over the next four years after this one could take the Dodgers off of the market for any of the high-end free agent pitching this offseason, which is quite notable in the Cubs’ world; and (2) Hamels would seem a pricey arm (after age 30, no less) for the Cardinals, and would gobble up some important prospects to acquire, which could be good for the Cubs in the medium and long-term in the NL Central. Suffice it to say, I am extremely interested to see how any Hamels rumors shake out.
- Should the Cubs be in on Hamels, you ask? Well, setting aside the premium the Phillies can get from a team in play contention this year, the question is whether Hamels’ age 31, 32, 33, and 34 seasons are worth $22.5 million per year (plus a very attainable vesting option worth $24 million at age 35), and if so, whether it’s worth giving up a steep price to get him. If we generously assume Hamels is a 4-win pitcher for each of the next four years, and totally ignore the option, at $6 million per win, Hamels is worth $24 million per year (this is seriously short-hand right now – for a more robust valuation discussion, see here). So, if we’re being optimistic, he’s getting about what he’s worth to the market. How much should a team be willing to give in trade for that? Well, if you’re the Cubs, a lot less than a team like the Cardinals and Dodgers, who can use him now. In other words, as far as the Cubs are concerned this week as buyers, nothing to see here.
- As for the other non-Price top arm potential available, Ken Rosenthal says the Red Sox are getting “hit hard” on Jon Lester, together with John Lackey (whose contract includes a team option for next season at the ML minimum because of his prior Tommy John surgery and the attendant contract language). Given Lackey’s contract, I’d think he could actually net more in trade than Lester right now, though I’d question whether the Sox would actually deal him. So much value next year.
- And another arm: Jeff Passan says the Indians are “very willing” to move Justin Masterson, who has battled injuries, ineffectiveness, and a velocity drop this year. I’m trying to figure this one out. It’s hard to see the Indians getting a ton for a rental that the buying team can’t possibly have much confidence in, and the Indians are just 3.5 back in the Wild Card. Are they afraid that, when it comes down to it at the end of the year, they won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer for fear that he’ll accept? Do they feel like they can keep competing this year without him? If so, what does that say about Masterson’s value? The righty remains an interesting guy to watch for the offseason, but he’s fallen squarely into the buy-low-bounce-back type, rather than a guy you could sign and count on as even a 3/4.
- Aside: given all of these pitchers suddenly popping onto the trade market, aren’t the Cubs once again looking smart for trading both of their top pitching assets earlier this month?
- Matt Kemp is a very popular “big” trade name right now, but Mike Petriello writes convincingly that, despite everything, the best course of action might just be to hang onto Kemp, outfield glut and all.
- A fascinating read from FanGraphs on how much it should cost – yes, cost – to trade away Kemp. By Jeff Sullivan’s rough calculation, Kemp’s contract has about $40 to $50 million in negative value, which means, in theory, the Dodgers would be better off if they could trade Kemp with a good prospect to a team in exchange for nothing. It’d be a “you take Kemp’s full contract, get a good prospect” kind of deal.
- MetsBlog writer Matt Cerrone hears that the Cubs are not inclined to deal a shortstop – Castro/Baez/Russell – right now, preferring to see where things stand in the offseason. That’s what I’ve been expecting all along, but it’s nice to hear it this time from a New York writer.
- Jon Heyman reports that Alfonso Soriano plans to take the rest of this year off before trying to play again next year.
- Teams are reportedly not finding it easy to get a deal done with the Mariners.
- Speaking of the Mariners, Joel Sherman says they and the Braves are aggressively pursuing Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia. I’d be interested to know what free-agent-to-be Denorfia could net in trade, as it could implicate the Cubs’ efforts to shop their complementary outfielders.
- Speaking of which, Jayson Stark connects the Yankees to Justin Ruggiano as a possible low-cost outfield addition. I’ve got no problem with the Cubs moving a Ruggiano or a Coghlan, but, given the cheap team control – and relative goodness this year – I think you’d want to see them actually get a little bit of value if they’re going to move one of those guys.