Cole Hamels is available. Commence weeping.
Yes, it would be a sad day if Hamels were to get traded. But if the Phillies are serious about restocking their franchise with young, impact players, he is the one player on the roster that is capable of bringing back a return that would actually be worth it.
ESPN's Jayson Stark fleshed things out a little further in his Rumblings and Grumblings column from Monday...
Teams continue to ask the Phillies about Cole Hamels, and report that A) they will listen but B) the price is astronomical. Hamels has four years left on his contract after this season, at $22.5 million a year. And the Phillies have told teams they're willing to take on $10 million of that. But that still means any team dealing for him would be on the hook for $20 million a year. And given that, one AL executive said, the asking price is "just not realistic." While clubs basically look at Hamels as a guy the Phillies clearly don't want to trade, they remain frustrated that the Phillies don't factor in all the money that would be assumed when they ask for every team's top three or four young players.
It seems as though Ruben Amaro's heart really isn't into trading Hamels away, but if he gets bowled over by a deal, he might pull the trigger.
Given that, there appear to be three teams with the salary structure and prospects that would seem to make sense. Here is what a dream deal (for the Phillies) would look like with all three teams.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Phillies get OF Joc Pederson, SS Corey Seager and one of Julio Urias or Zach Lee
As Morosi noted in his tweet, Los Angeles is interested in acquiring Hamels. Heck, they've been interested since before Hamels signed his extension back in 2012. They'll probably still be interested in him once he retires. And while L.A. has more money than they know what to do with, they're going to have to pony up their top prospects in order to land him.
Pederson is a 22-year-old in Triple-A Albuquerque who is hitting .322/.455/.592 with 22 HRs, 25 stolen bases and 14 doubles in 326 ABs with a 110/77 K/BB ratio. He can also play at any spot in the outfield.
Seager is a 20-year old shortstop who was recently called up to Double-A Chattanooga, where in 390 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A he's hitting .353/.410/.630 with 18 HRs and 37 doubles.
Urias is just 17-years-old pitching in High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he has a 3.03 ERA in 59.1 innings, with a 67/28 K/BB ratio in 59.1 innings. He's averaging 10.16 strikeouts per nine, with a WHIP of 1.23. At age 17. Lee has a bit less upside, with a 5.18 ERA in 20 starts at Triple-A, and a career 4.02 ERA in parts of four minor league seasons.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Phillies get OF Oscar Taveras, RHP Carlos Martinez, and LHP Rob Kaminsky
*EDITORS NOTE* Initially I left Taveras out of this scenario, but upon reflection and the wise counsel of resident prospect guru @Matt_Winkelman, I reconsidered. Taveras MUST be in any deal for Hamels.*
Taveras is, simply put, one of the best prospects in the game and a true difference maker. In 448 career PAs in Triple-A he's hit .313/.358/.485 with 13 HRs and 30 doubles. He's still just 22 years old and has been called up to the big club twice already this year, only to be sent down for regular at-bats.
I initially had OF Stephen Piscotty in here, but he wasn't enough of an impact power bat to make him the lone position player in this deal. It's got to be Taveras, or else, no sale.
Martinez would also headline the deal. He has pitched mostly out of the Cardinals' bullpen this year, but projects as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter or closer. He needs to refine his control, as evidenced by his 1.463 WHIP in 67 innings so far, but at age 22, he's just getting started.
And finally there is Kaminsky, who, at 19, has a 1.50 ERA in 13 starts at Low-A Peoria, with 65 strikeouts and 23 walks in 72 innings. Here is what Cormican said about him in his Who's Whos piece a couple weeks ago.
On the mound, you could target local product Rob Kaminsky who is performing well in full season Low-A. His GB rate is higher than you'd expect for a Pitcher under 6 feet tall and his K and BB rates are both good. He'd come with the usual short pitcher caveats and risks though.
Frankly, this isn't as good a package as the Los Angeles deal, and without Taveras and/or Gonzalez, I don't think Amaro pulls the trigger.
BOSTON RED SOX
Phillies get 2B/OF Mookie Betts, LHP Henry Owens and C Blake Swihart
Of the three teams here, the Red Sox would seem to be the least likely to trade for Hamels, given their record. However, if they fear losing Jon Lester for good at the end of the season, they might try to find a replacement. It's going to cost them, though.
As I mentioned last week, Phils scouts were in attendance at a Boston Double-A game started by Owens. And while he didn't fare well in that one, he's been terrific as a 21-year-old for Portland, with a 2.56 ERA, with 123 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched, including three complete games.
Betts is the Red Sox' top minor league player, and had a cup of coffee with the big club for a couple weeks before recently being sent back down. He's seen as a top-of-the-order table-setter. He started the season at Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, where in 130 ABs he's hit .323/.405/.462 with 3 HRs, 5 doubles and 2 triples. He's played mostly second base, but can also play corner outfield as well.
Finally, Swihart is a switch-hitting catcher known more for his offense than his defense, although he did throw out 42% of would-be base stealers last year. As a 22-year-old playing for Double-A Portland, he's hitting .306/.358/.492 with 12 HRs and 20 doubles.
Of the three deals, Los Angeles' is the most attractive, followed by Boston and St. Louis. Of course, certain players could be swapped out, and all three are highly unlikely. If St. Louis decided to make Taveras available, they would probably leap to the top of the heap.
That said, it's still an extreme long shot that any of these teams will pony up the amount of high-impact young talent the Phillies are seeking for their ace left-hander.