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old stove featureThe latest from the rumor mill …

  • Ken Rosenthal writes about the Phillies and Cole Hamels, with commentary straight from the horse’s (Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.) mouth. According to Rosenthal, Amaro is telling teams that he’ll eat some of the money left on Hamels’ deal to enhance his return. Given the way the market is shaping up – possibly lots of rentals available, and plenty of great starters available in free agency after the season – the Phillies might have to eat salary to get a quality return, even for a great arm like Hamels. Given how well Hamels is pitching of late, Rosenthal argues that teams should be trying to get him now, rather than waiting until July. There’s logic in that – there is every year – but until the market loosens up as a whole, it’s hard to put together a major trade. Teams don’t know if they’re sellers yet, and buyers don’t know who’ll be selling yet – so why go hard after Hamels right now if you don’t know what other deals will be available next month or the next month? And why sell Hamels to Team A right now when your preferred fit with Team B might come in July when Team B finally decides it is ready to buy? It’s just hard to to make a big deal like that right now, even if you want to.
  • Relatedly, sources tell Peter Gammons that the Phillies, Reds and A’s have started to scour the Dodgers’ farm system, presumably knowing that the Dodgers are going to want to buy a starter at some point. Gammons hears that Reds owner Bob Castellini doesn’t want to trade Johnny Cueto, who is a free agent after this season (that would be a huge mistake).
  • And, speaking of the Dodgers, Rosenthal says there’s a deal going down between the Dodgers and Braves involving Juan Uribe and Alberto Callaspo and several minor leaguers. (UPDATE: Sounds like Callaspo has rejected the deal.)
  • Jim Duquette dreams up some trades between the Cubs and Mets as the fit between the teams continues to make sense, and the sides have talked. I don’t particularly love any of the deals for the Cubs, though I’ll admit that dealing Starlin Castro or Javier Baez for multiple – emphasis on multiple – quality young arms does have some appeal, given the construction of the Cubs’ roster. It’s just tough because, as we all know well, arms break down much more easily than position players’ wrists/hammies/etc.
  • We talked about this last week in relation, specifically, to the rumor that Cole Hamels will refuse any trade to the Blue Jays, but if you didn’t read Jon Heyman’s latest, it’s full of interesting items. Heyman hears that guys like Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach could be trade candidates for the Cubs since the current front office didn’t draft them. Meh. The truth is, guys like that will be trade candidates because (1) they have value, (2) they may not be a near-term fit on the big league team (I could make an argument on Baez, though), and (3) the Cubs will have to trade someone if they’re going to pick up pieces midseason. Heyman also mentions that “some [are] predicting” that the Cubs go after Jordan Zimmermann or Jeff Samardzija this offseason. While I do think Zimmermann makes sense as a target, I’m no longer as predisposed to thinking that the Cubs may try and bring back Samardzija as I once was. There are just so many options out there after this season, and, as always, those kinds of reunions are so rare.
  • Speaking of Zimmermann, who starts against the Cubs later today, Patrick Mooney writes about the possibility that the Cubs could go after the 29-year-old righty after this season. The question, of course, is how much he’ll cost, and whether the Cubs will want to pony up the $150+ million. If you have a concern right now on Zimmermann, it’s the fact that his surging strikeout rate from 2014 hasn’t carried over to 2015, and now looks like a blip, rather than a new trend. Without that sizable uptick, Zimmermann looks like a very good, but non-ace, starter. What’s that worth these days? In any case, I expect Zimmermann to be a heavy subject of conversation around here, among many other names, later this year.
  • One other random Heyman bit: the Astros are making outfield Preston Tucker available. He’ll be an interesting chip for the Astros to wield heading into trade season.
  • Another day, another big-time Cuban prospect coming onto the market: 21-year-old righty Norge Ruiz. He’ll be a part of the 2015-16 IFA class, in which we believe the Cubs are likely to spend aggressively.
  • Jeff Sullivan imagines what a Johnny Cueto/Aroldis Chapman package might cost. I’m not saying the Cubs would go down that road, but how good would a high-end starter and a lights-out reliever look on this team?

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