MLB Trade Rumors: Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels is a popular name in trade rumors right now, and the New York Yankees are the team that former Mets and Orioles general manager Jim Duquette sees landing the veteran lefthanded starter in his piece predicting landing spots for 10 prominent trade candidates this summer. Duquette suggests a package of either Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield, along with infielder Brandon Drury, for Hamels.
While I think the odds are good that Hamels gets dealt, and the Yankees seem like a good fit (although Hamels has the right to veto a deal to the Yankees), the package Duquette suggests would come back seems odd. The Yankees acquired Drury from Arizona in a three-way deal this offseason that sent Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks, and while Drury was expected to be a regular for the Yankees after playing 130+ games for Arizona the past two seasons, he has spent most of this season in AAA due to a roster crunch in New York. Drury is a useful player as either a second baseman or third baseman, but the Rangers already have more options at those two positions than they know what to do with, and so if Texas were to acquire Drury, it would seem likely they would do so only to move him elsewhere in a separate deal.
As for the two pitchers mentioned, there’s a pretty wide spread between Adams and Sheffield. Getting Justus Sheffield would be a home run for the Rangers in a Hamels deal, but also seems like a longshot — even if the Rangers agreed to absorb all of Hamels’ remaining 2018 salary (which the Yankees would likely want, given their desire to stay below the luxury tax line this year), plus his $6 million buyout of his 2019 option, getting Sheffield would be a coup. Sheffield is ranked #22 on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list right now, and is #39 on the MLB Pipeline list. While Duquette praises Hamels’ playoff experience as being something that would make him more desirable in a deal, his stuff and command have fallen to the point that he’s likely a #4 starter on a championship contender right now. The Yankees could use a #4 starter who has the experience to handle the New York glare as they fight with Boston to claim the A.L. East title and avoid having to play a one game Wild Card Game, given that Masahiro Tanaka is on the d.l., Jordan Montgomery is done until late 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and Sonny Gray is struggling. I doubt they are going to part with a talent like Sheffield for such a piece, however.
Chance Adams, on the other hand, is the type of pitcher the Rangers would seem more likely to get in a Hamels deal. Appearing on the back end of top 100 lists this offseason, the 23 year old righthander dropped off BA’s midseason top 100 after a rough first half in AAA, with Adams putting up a 4.97 ERA in 70 innings over 15 starts for Wilkes-Barre.
I’ve said this before, and will continue beating this drum...Hamels isn’t likely to bring back a big return. He’s not the top of the rotation guy he was a few years ago, and there are a lot of sellers out there who have starting pitchers available. The Rangers being willing to absorb salary this year and the $6 million buyout next year makes him more attractive, especially since he’s not necessarily a rental, with a team that acquires him potentially being able to bring him back for 2019 at a net cost of $14 million (the $20 million option less the $6 million buyout). The Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers are the two teams that really jump out as contenders that need to solidify their rotation for the stretch run, though Hamels can veto a trade to either team.
Ultimately, Hamels likely is pitching elsewhere on August 1, and the Rangers will likely be subsidizing some of his deal, seeking to improve the return they receive for him in the process.