Rangers trade rumors: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher, continues to be linked to the Texas Rangers, with several Rangers beat writers saying yesterday that talks between the teams are back on.
The Hamels saga really dates back to 2012, when the Rangers were reportedly planning on pursuing Hamels after the season, when he was scheduled to be a free agent. Hamels signed an extension in July, 2012, taking him off the market, but once the Phillies went into an organizational free-fall, trade rumors began circulating involving Hamels, and the Rangers have consistently been one of the teams in the middle of them.
Reports keep indicating that the Rangers love the player, but have concerns about the contract and the players the Phillies are wanting in a deal, and national reports have consistently indicated that the Phillies' asking price has been very high. Lately, however, there have been indications that Philly is coming down somewhat on their demands, and if you are the Rangers, you are probably hoping you can keep Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro out of a potential deal, fronting it instead with either Chi Chi Gonzalez or Jake Thompson, along with either Lewis Brinson or Nick Williams.
Part of the problem the Rangers are potentially facing is that the market for rental starting pitchers doesn't appear to be strong -- Oakland's return for Scott Kazmir appears, from the outside, to be underwhelming, and with Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Mat Latos, and potentially Jeff Samardzija and David Price available, Texas doesn't appear to be in a position to get a significant return for Yovani Gallardo via trade. Dealing Gallardo, a free agent after the season, would be a way to add prospects and soften the blow to the farm system that you'd incur by dealing prospects for Hamels.
Hamels' contract is fairly reasonable, at $22.5M per year from 2016-18 -- his age 32-34 seasons -- and a vesting option with a buyout for 2019. The Phillies' priority is getting a strong prospect return, however, which could result in them offering to subsidize some of the amounts due to Hamels going forward in exchange for a tastier prospect package. Whether that would induce the Rangers to part with Mazara isn't quite clear...
Putting Hamels in a rotation in 2016 with a (hopefully healthy) trio of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez would give the Rangers a stacked rotation, one that would put them back in the mix as a playoff contender next year. With Darvish under team control just through 2017, the Rangers are motivated to try to keep their contention window open while he is here.