Following up on this morning’s report that the Chicago Cubs have claimed Philadelphia Phillies lefty Cole Hamels off of revocable trade waivers, and the already extensive thoughts I laid out there. Still, I guess there’s more to say.
For one thing, Jayson Stark just tweeted out that the Cubs are actually not on Hamels’ no-trade list, contrary to previous reports. So there’s one hurdle out of the way. But I don’t think it will much matter.
Fundamentally speaking, there is little reason to expect that the Phillies would accept less now for Hamels in trade than they demanded before the Trade Deadline. With the offseason coming and a full market of teams to which to market, why would they take less now than they could have gotten last week, or could get in two months (or at next year’s Trade Deadline, for that matter)?
At the deadline, the Phillies’ demands for Hamels were extreme. For example, from the Dodgers, the Phillies asked for Joc Pederson. And Julio Urias. AND Corey Seager. That’s three top 30 prospects in baseball. Your reaction here should be something between an LOL and a full on ROFL.
If that’s what they wanted then, it’s obvious why the Cubs weren’t going after Hamels (who provides them no value in 2014, since they’re out of the race). Claiming Hamels on trade waivers, as the Cubs have reportedly done, then is more about taking a “what the hell” shot at getting a guy they probably really do want, and limiting the Phillies’ market to one team. Maybe the Phillies’ demands will be more realistic after being rebuffed at the deadline?
It sure doesn’t sound like it.
Philadelphia reporter Howard Eskin spoke with David Kaplan and David Haugh today, and was pretty adamant that, while the Phillies would consider trading Hamels to the Cubs, it’s going to take a haul to make it happen. Dumping Hamels is not something the Phillies are interested in. Indeed, Eskin said the Phillies wouldn’t even take a “fair” deal for Hamels – they want an unfair deal.
Even from the Phillies’ perspective, this makes sense. With deep pockets and an ownership/fan base that is loathe to go through a rebuild, they might as well hang on to a quality pitcher who isn’t overpaid, and either see what happens in the offseason, or just let him pitch next year. Ask yourself as if you’re the Phillies: can we get more right now from the Cubs (when our trade options are Cubs or no one), or in the offseason or the next Trade Deadline when we can market Hamels to every team? If not, should we take the Cubs’ lesser offer simply because our market is artificially restricted right now? No, right? Yeah, no.
From the Cubs’ perspective, maybe you’re willing to make a fair offer for Hamels (understanding that he provides no meaningful value this year, and then is essentially paid market rate for the next four years). That would be something like one top ten (not elite) prospect, and a couple more down on the Cubs’ excellent prospect list. When you really dig into it, that could be a nice package. And although Hamels’ contract doesn’t offer surplus value, there is some kind of value in knowing you have the guy under contract (rather than having to fight to sign someone).
The problem? That kind of package is not nearly enough for the Phillies, given how they value Hamels. And that’s fine.
Because for the Cubs, if the question is Hamels at market price, OR at shot at someone like Jon Lester for the same salary (and maybe another year or two) PLUS whatever they would have to give up for Hamels (Addison Russell?) … then it’s not a question at all.
There is a chasm between what the Phillies can reasonably ask for Hamels and what the Cubs should reasonably offer. To be sure, the Cubs wouldn’t have claimed Hamels just to be jerks and block a possible trade to a contender. Thus, they must really want Hamels. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to blow up their farm for a guy who doesn’t provide much, if any, surplus value over the course of his contract. Pitchers in their 30s are risky enough – there’s no sense in doubling down on your risk by giving up extremely valuable assets in the process.
No trade will be consummated, and the Phillies will pull Hamels back. It’s been a fun conversation, though.
Jacob Turner, on the other hand … well, that’s something that’s almost certainly going to happen today or tomorrow. No update presently, however.
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