With Jon Lester (and Jason Hammel) now in the fold, as much as we want to be greedy, I highly doubt the Cubs will seriously entertain adding another big-time starter (at least not one in his 30s on a nine-figure deal; a one-year guy on a steal of a trade, sure, maybe).
That probably includes trading with the Phillies for Cole Hamels, who has four years and $96 million left on his deal (or five years and $110 million if his final year option kicks in). There are so many attractive starting pitchers likely to hit the market after this season, and the Cubs look like they can field a competitive (or better) rotation without a luxury like Hamels, so I’m just guessing that trading away prospects for Hamels – and the prospect price has only climbed in recent weeks, given escalating pitcher prices – isn’t in the cards.
Also: if the Cubs are going to use their prospect currency to upgrade the team for the immediate near-term, I’d probably rather see them go after a big-time bat right now. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the Cubs’ young offense is likely to continue its growing pains in 2015.
But this morning, Nick Cafardo writes that the Cubs are still among the teams interested in the Phillies’ lefty, together with the Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers, Astros and Giants. Based on the list, I’m immediately suspicious that every team that was seriously interested in Hamels as of last week is still being listed – you can make a strong argument that the Cubs, Dodgers, and maybe Red Sox, should plausibly be out at this point – but maybe that’s not the case.
The Cubs were obviously very interested in Hamels at one time, and that was all while they knew Jon Lester was going to be their top pitching target in free agency. Is there a chance the Cubs were always quietly hoping they could land both lefties this offseason?
Again, I doubt it, for all of the reasons mentioned above. Given how many interested teams Cafardo lists, I think another reason you can throw in is, if there’s a robust market for Hamels, I can’t see the Cubs pushing to outbid the competition for a luxury add.
But I suppose we’ll keep listening to see if his name pops up connected to the Cubs in the post-Lester/Hammel world. The Cubs do have a ton of prospect currency, after all.