The San Diego Padres off-season was one of the most memorable times in Padres history. The acquisitions and over-haul of the offense, was key to revitalizing the mostly stagnant Padres fan base. Most fans of the team had grown tired of an average team that was really not very entertaining to watch.
After the additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, A.J. Preller turned his attention to acquiring a starting pitcher. Cole Hamels was constantly rumored to be sought after by the Padres. Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro resulted in playing hard-ball and despite the Padres obvious interest in Hamels, a deal was never agreed upon. Rumor had it the Padres at one point were going after Hamels even after they signed James Shields to a four year- $75 million dollar contract.
Recently the rumors swirling around Hamels have the Toronto Blue Jays of major interest. It is said a deal was being worked, but Hamels exercised his no trade clause and talks broke down. The Phillies will move him eventually and you have to hand it to Amaro, he has remained patient with his left-handed ace. Hamels is a legitimate big game pitcher. Having both a World Series ring and a World Series MVP under his belt.
The San Diego Padres would love to obtain Hamels, but it really seems unlikely at this point. Hamels has four years and around $90 million dollars left on his contract. He also has a fifth year vesting option on his contract, making the total investment over $110 million dollars. That alone could make a deal improbable, but factor in the fact the Padres just don’t have the prospects the Phillies covet.
Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges are the Padres top two prospects and their value has been tarnished a bit from the national media. Hedges is viewed as a defensive first catcher, who might not be adequate enough to hit everyday at the major league level. Renfroe has legitimate power, but critics point to the fact he still struggles to make consistent contact, even at the AA level.
A deal could be reached by the two teams but two key things must happen. The Padres must part with a talented young major league player like Wil Myers, Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross. That is a scary thought as each has endeared themselves to our city. Myers despite being banged up, is probably not an option. He is a very inexpensive talent and started this year well for the Padres. The team would surely not want to part with him at this point.
Cashner and Ross would be an interesting option. Both are quality starters, but struggle with consistency. Hamels would be an upgrade over each pitcher, but at the same time Ross and Cashner could very well take their game into a whole new level. They both have amazing abilities, just have yet put it all together. The Phillies would also probably require a prospect or two in order to complete a deal.
The second key factor in a potential deal for Hamels would quite simply be the money. It is reported the Phillies would be willing to eat some of his contract, but how much would they truly be willing to take on? The answer would probably be, it depends on the level of prospects they get in return for Hamels. If the Phillies could take Melvin Upton Jr. in a potential deal, then that might help the Padres part with the likes of Ross or Cashner. The Padres are surely going to want to take a run at re-signing Justin Upton, and every dollar they can save will be helpful. Still the likelihood of a deal is very small for the Padres. Bottom line is the team is not playing well right now, and to further change the team dramatically would be viewed upon as a desperate move.
Still Cole Hamels and James Shields at the top of your rotation is a very enjoyable thought. The Phillies are said to be motivated and also willing to be creative in a potential move. A.J. Preller has already pulled off a three-team deal in acquiring Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays and packaging prospects to the Washington Nationals. He could most likely looking for another team to get in a deal, who really knows?
Cole Hamels is a very dependable pitcher and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are already said to have been in contact with the Phillies. Each team has prospects that the Phillies covet. In particular the Red Sox with Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts have been in constant connection to the Phillies. They have been unwilling to talk about moving either young prospect, and as stubborn as Amaro has been, they too have refused to discuss their top prospects. The Red Sox have an obvious need for a starting pitcher, so a deal between these two teams could happen if the Red Sox management deems it necessary.
The St. Louis Cardinals after losing Adam Wainwright to an Achilles injury, have a need for a starter. They have young pitching prospects but I feel the Cardinals traditionally do not like to deal prospects for established major leaguers. The team will most likely look for cheaper alternatives as the team is well out front in the National League Central. A team that could be interested, is the New York Yankees. They however probably do not match up with the Phillies on a potential deal. The Yankee farm system is in a bit of an overhaul process.
The Los Angeles Dodger have more than enough prospects to get the deal done and the evil empire up north would easily gobble up Hamels $100 million dollar contract without even batting an eye. They have Corey Seager, Zach Lee and Julio Urias that are legitimate major league prospects. In the past the Dodgers would move their prospects for anyone and whoever, but the team has unfortunately learned their lesson. If the team deems it necessary to obtain Hamels, they could most surely do it any moment. They have that deep a farm system.
So where will Hamels go? My prediction is it will be between the Dodgers and the Red Sox with an outside side the Padres get into the sweepstakes. The Padres would have to make a major move in the National League West for the team to consider making a move. To me the Padres are the most willing to trade for Hamels, but Amaro quite simply prefers the Red Sox and Dodgers prospects. Either the Dodgers or Red Sox could get a deal for Hamels done rather quickly if they want. Once talks heat up with one team, Amaro is likely to let the others know. A July trade is probably the most likely scenario, we as Padres fans will be eager to see where he goes. Cole Hamels would sure look good at the top of the Padres rotation, don’t you think?