With the Washington Nationals signing of Max Scherzer, the number of elite, free agent starting pitchers available was essentially cut down to one with James Shields left as the last man standing.
While the free agent market has dwindled down, the same hasn’t necessarily held true with respect to trades. The Texas Rangers acquired Yovani Gallardo from the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday and rumors of a Cole Hamels trade persist to some degree.
However, according to Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t anticipating a Hamels trade:
I think Cole Hamels is going to be in our uniform, frankly. I don’t really foresee him being moved. It is possible because we’re literally keeping our minds and eyes and ears open on every player that we have on our roster.”
Echoing a sentiment he shared in November, Amaro Jr. again reiterated the Phillies’ view of their ace being among the game’s best pitchers and thus they’d want significant compensation:
That said, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. And so, if we were to move him, we’re going to have to get some of the best prospects in baseball back.”
The Dodgers and Phillies reportedly discussed a Hamels trade prior to the deadline last season, but the Dodgers were unwilling to include any of their top prospects in the deal. In December, it was rumored the Phillies were scouting Dodgers’ prospects and it was followed by a belief they wanted Joc Pederson or Corey Seager in any trade.
As recently as nine days ago, it was reported the Phillies were receiving interest from the West Coast on Hamels. Given previous reports this offseason, it may be safe to presume the interest was coming from the Dodgers or San Diego Padres.
Amaro Jr.’s stance of not anticipating a trade could simply be a negotiating tactic to help maintain leverage and avoid being forced to sell low. Despite Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi not ruling it out, the team has yet to spend big on a free agent pitcher.
Shields presumably would come at a lower price than Jon Lester or Scherzer, but he would also cost the Dodgers their first round pick in the 2015 draft. Hamels, a San Diego native, is guaranteed $98 million through the 2018 season and recently told Jimmy Rollins it would be ‘lovely’ to join him in Los Angeles.
Hamels’ contract also includes a $20 million team option for 2019 that vests at $24 million should he pitch a combined 400 innings in 2017-2018 (with 200 innings coming in 2018) and avoid the disabled list with a shoulder or elbow injury at the end of 2018.