cole hamelsThis weekend, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Chicago Cubs were still discussing lefty ace Cole Hamels with the Philadelphia Phillies, together with the Dodgers and possibly the Red Sox and Rangers.

Well, there’s quite a bit more smoke today.

Jayson Stark writes that, after speaking with other clubs around the game, they all believe that if Hamels is dealt, it will indeed be to one of those four teams.

The Dodgers still seem like the favorite, though Stark notes that the Dodgers haven’t been willing to part with either Julio Urias or Corey Seager (understandably), and the Phillies have otherwise asked for as many as six of the Dodgers’ next tier of prospects (which are darn good). That’s crazy.

With respect to the Cubs, Stark mentions that they’ve been dangling Starlin Castro and Javier Baez* as the center piece, but haven’t found the Phillies willing to bite. That’s unsurprising given Castro’s profound struggles and contract, and given Baez’s finger injury and rough big league debut.

I think the Cubs should have the pieces to get Hamels without giving up Schwarber/Bryant/Russell, but I’d only be speculating on the Phillies’ demands at that point. I also am still very much on the fence on whether giving up top prospects for Hamels is the right approach for the Cubs.

This is definitely something to follow over the next week and a half, though, and it’s going to probably get extremely smokey when Hamels comes to Chicago on Saturday to face the Cubs.

There’s much more in Stark’s article about the possible destinations for Hamels – if he’s traded at all – and it’s worth a read.

*(The phrasing in the article could be read as the Cubs trying to package both Castro and Baez, but that’s almost certainly not what the intention is. Sometimes “and” can be a tricky conjunction, meaning something closer to “or.” I think that’s the case here.)

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