MLB Trade Rumors: Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers starting pitcher, is seen as one of the top starting pitchers on the trade market this summer. While rumors have had Hamels most likely being dealt by the trade deadline, Jon Morosi tweets that “groundwork” on a possible deal “has advanced to the point” that Hamels could be dealt before the All Star Break.
Hamels is making $23.5 million this year, with $2.5 million believed to be paid by the Philadelphia Phillies, and has a $20 million vesting option in 2019 with a $6 million buyout. The vesting option requires Hamels to have 400 innings pitched in 2017-18, and as he only had 148 innings pitched last year, he almost certainly won’t reach that benchmark, which means that whatever team has him at the end of 2018 can bring him back for $20 million for one season, or cut him loose for $6 million.
Hamels also has a no-trade clause that allows him to veto deals to 20 teams. The nine teams that the Rangers can trade him to without his consent are the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Seattle Mariners, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Washington Nationals, the Houston Astros, the Chicago Cubs, the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays. While some of those teams would seem to have interest in Hamels, the clubs that seem to be the best fits — the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers — would require Hamels to agree to go there.
Hamels, 34, has a very nice 3.61 ERA, although that belies a 5.23 FIP which is going to make acquiring clubs leery. He’s also allowed 20 home runs this season and is leading the majors in HBPs. He’s no longer really a legitimate top of the rotation starter, but a team looking for a solid, battle-tested veteran with playoff experience for the stretch drive and the postseason — such as the Yankees or Brewers — would seem to be a good match.
In terms of what Morosi’s tweet means as far as “groundwork,” I would hazard a guess that the Rangers have talked to clubs who have interest in Hamels, have established some parameters as far as what they are looking for, and have talked to clubs about how much of Hamels’ contract they might be willing to eat, and how that would change the asking price. The All Star Break is just over two weeks away, so this suggests things could move quickly.
Or they could not. This could, after all, be the Rangers seeking to make it sound like they are ready and prepared on a Hamels deal to get teams who might be viewing Hamels as a possible Plan B to engage a little more or get more serious about discussions. Or the groundwork may be getting laid, but it may be no one is ready to pull the trigger.
As always, good luck reading the tea leaves during MLB rumor season...