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The Rumored Cole Hamels Trade Destinations, Ranked

Despite the flurry of moves involving starting pitchers, there likely remains a robust trade market for Cole Hamels among teams who fancy themselves contenders either next year or not too long after.

I'm going to get to win next year!
I'm going to get to win next year!
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

With Jimmy Rollins (probably) traded to the Dodgers last week, the Phillies rebuild has begun in earnest. Despite the Cubs (John Lester, Jason Hammel) and Red Sox (Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley) solidifying their starting rotations in the last week, there are still numerous parties interested in Cole Hamels, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo in his Sunday baseball notes.

It wasn't until Rollins was actually traded (although, maybe he wasn't, according to David Cohen) that I appreciated the emotional gravity of one of my favorite players being traded away. Because of the Phillies' loyalty, for better or worse, we haven't recently had to endure the departure of a franchise icon of Jimmy's caliber. It hasn't been since Allen Iverson was traded to the Nuggets nearly 8 years ago in 2006 that I have had to confront the emotions associated with the loss of a franchise icon and favorite (or close to it) player.

Whatever I felt last Wednesday when the news of Jimmy Rollins' (likely) trade broke, they will certainly be dwarfed when the Phillies trade Cole Hamels sometime between now and the end of July.  While the loss of Hamels will sting regardless of the team he finds himself traded to, some destinations will doubtlessly hurt more than others.

In the interest in anticipating the emotional impact of a Hamels trade, I have, in what follows, endeavored to rank, in descending order of desirability, the likely next-season destinations for Cole Hamels.

  1. Astros--After attending SABR over the summer, I have developed a bit of a fan crush on the Houston Astros. Starting with their understated and timeless hat design, continuing to their charming lack of notable baseball-playing ability, and perhaps ending with their employment of many former Phillies--Chad Qualls, Domingo Santana, Josh Zeid, Jonathan Singleton, and Jonathan Villar--the Astros are a non-threatening, low-stakes team to become a fan of. For these reasons, I rank them as the most desirable destination for Cole Hamels.

  1. Padres--The Padres are the second of two non-Phillies teams on this list who are unlikely to be serious World Series contenders during Cole Hamels' tenure with the team. While I wish Hamels the best, it would just hurt too much to see him win a World Series with a team other than the Phillies, so I have to selfishly hope he ends up on a sub-par team. The Padres provide a great opportunity for Hamels to put up gaudy stats in Petco Park and not win a World Series. Plus, Cole Hamels would like California, I think. If he's not allowed to win, we gotta at least take care of him in other ways.

  1. Cubs--I think Cole Hamels would look good in a Cubs uniform, so that is a big part of this ranking. Unlike the Astros and Padres, the Cubs are positioned to win, if not next year, shortly thereafter. While it would hurt a non-trivial amount to see Hamels play a large role in helping the Cubs break their 106 World Series drought, they would be a huge upgrade over the bottom four teams on this list.

  1. Phillies--I hate myself for ranking the Phillies behind three other teams, but fandom of a team supercedes fandom of a player. As has been covered extensively here and elsewhere on the internet, trading Hamels is in the best interest of the franchise. While Hamels will make the 2015 Phillies infinitely more enjoyable to watch, and I would certainly rather see him play for the Phillies than any of the upcoming teams on this list, there would certainly be a sense of disappointment that the Phillies passed on an opportunity to better position their franchise for future success. Sorry, Cole.

  1. Dodgers--If it weren't for the Yankees permanent ownership of the title, the Dodgers would currently be the "Big Market Team That Everyone Has to Hate," a designation given to the team who benefits from a clear resource advantage over every other team. The Dodgers have one of the best front offices, the most money, a talented major league roster, and a respectable minor league system. In other words, they have everything. As sports fans, we have a natural tendency toward socialism, at least in so far as we inherently wish for the toppling of the upper class, unless of course, our team is that upper class. Hamels going to the Dodgers would further exaggerate their resource advantage over the rest of baseball. Hamels wearing blue, again, would be aesthetically pleasing, and that plays a significant part in the Dodgers not being last.

  1. Rangers--The Rangers are one of the few teams in baseball towards which I possess no strong visceral reaction. There's nothing about the Rangers in particular that would make me hate to see Cole Hamels there. My issue with the Rangers concerns instead that I expect and fear that Cole will be unjustly over-shadowed by Yu Darvish, an inferior pitcher with more MLB.TV-worthy stuff. The Dodgers are the only other team on this list where Hamels would not be the de facto "ace," but at least in Los Angeles he would be justifiably the #2 man.

  1. Red Sox--I still suspect that the Red Sox are the most likely destination for Cole, because, despite adding a crap-ton of pitchers in the past week, they have yet to find anyone resembling an "ace." Perhaps most importantly, they still have the types of prospects the Phillies are looking for in exchange for Cole--major-league ready, potential future all-stars. But, while they are the most likely destination on this list, they are also one of the worst for my emotional well-being. For reference, outside the NL East, only the Yankees and Giants would be worse destinations for Hamels. Red Sox fans don't deserve Hamels--they've had enough joy with multiple recent World Series championships. Cole should be somewhere where he can bring joy to fans who haven't felt joy recently. His joy-bringing powers would be wasted in Boston.

  1. Giants--This one should be obvious. We, Phillies fans, don't like the Giants in part because of their role in derailing our dreams of a World Series with the Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt rotation. They also have this maddening habit of winning the World Series every other year despite never fielding a particularly great team.That's certainly part of the reason, but, if Red Sox fans don't deserve Cole, the Giants definitely don't. Whenever pressed on why I hate the Giants and their fans--as if it isn't obvious--I only present one piece of evidence (WARNING: Watching the following video may cause elevated heart-rate and broken computer screens):

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call knockdown evidence. If you watch that video and manage to not cringe at the very thought of Hamels in San Francisco, we have nothing to say to each other. If Hamels ends up on the Giants, I might have to give up on baseball.

So, there you have it: the definitive Cole Hamels destination rankings of power. It is a sad list primariliy because it is sad to think about trading Cole Hamels, but this emotional conflict seems like it comes with the territory of rebuilding. Winning is good. Rebuilding is how the Phillies will get to win again. So, these trades, while sad, will eventually be good things.

Although it will hurt, we have to trade Cole. Just not to the Giants. Please not to the Giants.