It's been a busy Monday in the Phillies twittersphere, and the team hasn't done a dadgum thing yet.
You can pin the blame on our neighbors to the north, as the spending spree by the Boston Red Sox has put them in a prime position to make a strong offer for Cole Hamels. The Sox signed both shortstop Hanley Ramirez and third baseman Pablo Sandoval to free agent deals today, making for a crowded middle infield and outfield situation.
It's an interesting tactic taken by the Red Sox. They are seemingly abandoning any youth movement they were engaged in last year and have signed multi-year deals with veteran players in their 30s. This didn't work out so well the last time they tried it, back in 2010 when they signed Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to mega-deals.
The Sox are still short one ace pitcher. They are negotiating with their former ace, Jon Lester, but given the multitude of players from which they have to trade, a swap for the cheaper Hamels might make more sense.
The #RedSox, who also have an offer for Jon Lester, also have had the most serious talks with the #Phillies for Cole Hamels.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 24, 2014
It will be interesting to see if the #RedSox now part with OF Mookie Betts or C Blake Swihart in package deal to the #Phillies for Hamels.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 24, 2014
The Los Angeles #Dodgers now also in pursuit of #Phillies ace Cole Hamels, joining #Redsox and others.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 24, 2014
The Phillies are confident that if Red Sox don't get Jon Lester, Boston's desire for an ace will make a Cole Hamels trade very likely.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 24, 2014
#Phillies in good position with Hamels. Both #RedSox, #Cubs interested. Team that fails to land Lester could jump. Others likely in, too.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 24, 2014
Boston seems like the lead dog at this point, but Chicago and Los Angeles are both strong suitors as well.
Hamels does have Boston on his no-trade list, but has reportedly said he would waive that if Boston agreed to pick up the final year of his contract, which ordinarily would have been activated by one of Ruben Amaro's patented vesting options. That would put the total value of Hamels' deal at five years and $110 million. Still, that's less than Max Scherzer or Lester are going to get on the open market.
But nothing will likely happen until the Lester domino falls. If he doesn't re-sign with Boston, the Red Sox could get desperate. While it's unlikely they'd trade Xander Bogaerts, the Phillies could conceivably ask for some combination of catcher Blake Swihart, outfielder Mookie Betts, and pitchers Henry Owens and Matt Barnes.
The Sox would almost certainly try to ship out Yoenis Cespedes in a deal, but it's unlikely the Phils would be interested in a player on the final year of his deal, as I mentioned in my Hamels piece last week. And while the Phillies are looking to use Hamels to get younger, it's important to note that most prospects involved in deals like this never pan out, so perhaps a younger MLB player, with years of team control in front of him, would be part of a deal.
Also, the Phils don't have to trade Cole this off-season. They are under no obligation to do it, and should only do so for a deal that will net them exactly what they want.
But things are heating up, and it's starting to appear as if the smoke could turn into a fire very soon.