Here’s something interesting to consider as you head out for your weekend: Jon Heyman reports that the Toronto Blue Jays inquired with the Philadelphia Phillies about eminently available lefty ace Cole Hamels but were told that he would not consider accepting a trade to Toronto. That’s a very significant revelation because, if true, it means that Hamels intends to wield his no-trade clause, which allows him to block deals to 20 pre-identified teams, to flat out deny trades to certain teams (rather than merely to get his 2019 option guaranteed).
In other words, if the Phillies are serious about trading Hamels, but now know they cannot trade him to certain teams – one of which is apparently the Blue Jays – they’ve lost a healthy chunk of leverage.
According to reports, the Cubs are not on Hamels’ list of 20 teams to which he can block a trade. In theory, that would give them a leg up in a Hamels deal with respect to other suitors.
Will the Cubs actually emerge as suitors for Hamels this Summer?
We know that the Cubs have had interest in Hamels dating back to August when they claimed him on revocable trade waivers (the sides ultimately did not work out a deal), and reportedly held interest throughout the offseason, but there was never a fit on a deal. Heyman says the Phillies wanted either Kris Bryant or Addison Russell for Hamels last year (lulz), and the Cubs were not interested. If the demands come down significantly, Heyman suggests the two sides could re-engage.
Further hampering the Phillies’ leverage, according to Heyman: although Hamels would accept a trade to the Red Sox, who are on his no-trade list, he would want his 2019 option guaranteed to approve the trade. That’s not something the Red Sox are particularly keen to do. As we’ve discussed, it makes sense that they’d balk given the ample rental market that figures to be available in July, and the huge free agent market coming this offseason.
Of course, that’s why a deal might not ultimately make sense for the Cubs, either. They, too, could deal for a rental and then go full bore into the free agent market after this season. I’m saying only that Hamels’ contract might just look a little better to the Cubs than it does to the teams that would have to take on the option year to get Hamels.
In all, this is simply another important data point to add to the pile on Hamels and (possibly) the Cubs. It remains highly likely that Hamels is dealt by July 31, and it remains highly likely that the Cubs will at least consider making that kind of move.
Presently, Hamels, 31, sports a 3.24 ERA (4.12 FIP, 3.55 xFIP) over 58.1 innings. His strikeout rate is up quite a bit this year, but so is his walk rate (small sample). Hamels is making $23.5 million this year, and is set to make the same each of the next three years. He has a 2019 team option worth $20 million, but it becomes a $24 million player option essentially if he’s healthy in the final two years of his deal.
While we’re on the subject, you’re going to want to read Heyman’s full article, as it’s a bounty of interesting items, including other rumor-y bits involving the Cubs (some sources are suggesting the Cubs are making Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach available; the Cubs and Mets have considered a huge range of possible deals, and they’ll keep talking; and much more).