The Yankees are getting desperate.
New York's ace import from Japan has a torn elbow ligament that the team hopes will improve with six weeks of rehabilitation. However, there's a good chance Tanaka will need Tommy John surgery and could be lost until the start of the 2016 season.
In case you haven't heard, the Phillies have some starting pitchers they may be willing to dangle in a trade. One of them might be Cole Hamels, and after revealing earlier in the week that the Yankees are one of the nine teams not only Hamels' no-trade list, Fox Sports' Jon Morosi said on Twitter yesterday that a blockbuster between the two teams makes a lot of sense.
In his story, Morosi noted the benefits of acquiring Hamels from the Phils, namely, that if Tanaka does miss the 2015 season, Hamels would give New York a bona fide ace to lead their rotation next year in his absence.
Hamels would be a prudent long-term acquisition for the Yankees as they begin planning for a 2015 season that may not include Tanaka or CC Sabathia, who has a career-threatening knee condition. In all likelihood, the Yankees will need to make yet another major pitching investment at some point between now and next Opening Day. It could be wise to do so now, with cost certainty, rather than pay the going rate in free agency for Max Scherzer or Jon Lester.
If a blockbuster with the Phillies sounds like a desperate move . . . well . . . do the Yankees have any better options? They have lost their first-half MVP for the foreseeable future, and there’s no guarantee they’ll get him back this year. Unless they’re resigned to watching Derek Jeter play meaningless games in his final September, they must make a very bold move, very quickly.
In that way, a Hamels trade isn't going for broke in '14. It's as much about getting a head start on '15.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 11, 2014
Given all that, a trade between the Yankees and Phillies centering around Hamels would seem to make sense for New York. After all, they can certainly afford Cole's hefty contract which, according to Cot's Contracts, still has four guaranteed years and $96 million left on it.
Morosi also noted the Phils could approach the Yankees about a mega deal involving Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon, as a way of clearing salary off the books. But while Papelbon said Wednesday that he would welcome a trade to a contender, Rollins has seemed less reluctant to leave.
And there is one other, huge obstacle to a Hamels-to-New York deal that will likely lead to nothing getting done.
Simply put, the Yankees don't have much to trade.
Given what the Chicago Cubs received from Oakland in the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel deal, general manager Ruben Amaro likely would not trade Hamels for anything less than an elite, Major League ready prospect, and/or a young impact player that can join the Major League roster immediately.
Nor should he.
It's doubtful New York's best trade chip, All-Star reliever Dellin Betances, would be enough to motivate Amaro to trade Hamels. Perhaps if general manager Brian Cashman included outfielder Brett Gardner into the conversation, that could pique the Phils' interests. But trading Gardner would seem to be a move counter-productive to the Yankees competing in 2014 and beyond. And New York's farm system doesn't have any young, impact players, although there are some intriguing names in the low minors, pitcher Luis Severino, catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Aaron Judge among them.
While Hamels would certainly solve a lot of New York's problems, they wouldn't really do much for the Phillies, other than offer salary relief, and the Phils don't seem all that interested in unloading Rollins, Papelbon, or any other player simply to get salary off the books. They're looking for young talent, and the Yankees don't seem to have enough of it to warrant a deal for Hamels.
A deal centered around Cliff Lee would be more realistic, given the quality of the Yankees' prospects. But his age and elbow issues could make New York hesitant to go in that direction.
In the end, a Hamels-to-New York deal sounds sexy, but it doesn't make much sense from Philadelphia's side.