MLB Trade Rumors: A Cole Hamels trade to the Washington Nationals has been discussed, according to Jon Morosi. The Texas Rangers starting pitcher talked recently about the possibility of returning to the Philadelphia Phillies, his original club, being “a blessing,” but Morosi indicates talks are instead going on with the Phillies National League East rivals.
Morosi says that the Nationals are looking to upgrade their rotation, though they would likely want the Rangers to pick up some of Hamels’ salary — he is making $23 million this year, and has a $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout for 2019. While many of the teams that would seem to be a possible fit for a Hamels trade are on Hamels’ 20 team no trade list, the Nationals are not.
While I think the Nationals likely have interest in Hamels, and are a team that could land him, the more cynical part of me wonders whether this leak isn’t coming from the Rangers in an effort to put some pressure on the other two playoff contenders in the N.L. East. Washington is 6 back of Philadelphia and 5 back of the Atlanta Braves, each of whom are also among the teams that Hamels can be traded to without his permission. And for the Phillies, in particular, the notion of seeing Hamels go to the division rival Nationals would potentially sting.
Its debatable how much Hamels would really upgrade the Phillies’ rotation, given his struggles this year. However, Nick Pavetta, who started out strong for the Phillies, has had issues keeping runs off the board lately — since the beginning of June he has a 6.60 ERA, and with a 6+ ERA last season as a rookie, it isn’t as if he’s a rotation mainstay. With reports that Phillies ownership is getting involved and wanting to be aggressive, its not out of the question that they might be more proactive on Hamels if they think that, if they don’t act, he could end up in Washington.
Hamels pitches tonight against Oakland, and it would be nice if he were to have a strong outing in what will be his next-to-last scheduled start before the July 31 trade deadline.