Previously on Cole Hamels trade rumors:
The Phillies have not been in recent talks with the Red Sox due to the former's intractable demands for at least one of Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
Teams from the West, likely the Rangers and the Padres were expressing interest in Cole.
The Rangers may be something of a dark horse in the race to land the Phillies' ace as they are coming off what was probably a flukish bad season and possess the sort of high-end young talent the Phillies seek in return for Hamels.
This week, we don't have new information to lend any clarity as to where Hamels might end up this winter. What we do have, possibly, is some new insight into Ruben Amaro's approach as he goes about finding a suitable trade partner.
In yesterday's Bowden Bits (Insider access required), ESPN's Jim Bowden devotes an extended bit to all things Cole Hamels. Three things he mentions are of note.
First, he confirms what we've long known, or at least suspected: that the Padres and Red Sox are the front-runners for Hamels. This makes sense and has been the assumption all along as both have the combination of need for Hamels' services and the kind of elite talent in the high-minors that the Phillies are rumored to want in exchange.
He also mentions all the other teams we've discussed (Rangers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Astros, Cubs) while adding the Blue Jays as teams who have been checking in with the Phillies all winter. I don't recall the Blue Jays ever being mentioned before in connection with Hamels, but they make some sense. They signalled a desire to contend in 2015 when they signed Russell Martin to a 5 year, $82 million contract earlier this offseason. Their rotation, like that of the Red Sox, features 4 or 5 reliable starters, but lacks a "proven ace," if that's a thing. Bowden just lumps them in with every other non-Red Sox or -Padres team, so this is probably not the most likely destination for Cole, but it might be something to look out for going forward.
Lastly, Bowden concludes his Hamels bit with this paragraph:
There have been reports that the Red Sox don't want to include Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart in a Hamels deal, and those reports are accurate. However, the Phillies aren't going to let any individual prospect or prospects stand in the way of a Hamels deal. They are flexible in the packages they're asking for in return, which helps the Red Sox, who have one of the deepest and strongest farm systems in baseball. [Emphasis mine]
This paragraph must have been written in error. We all know by now that, as a point of fact, the Phillies are stubborn and set in their ways. They are demanding that a team hoping to land Hamels offer the next comings of Mike Trout AND Clayton Kershaw AND Giancarlo Stanton to even start the conversation. "If you aren't willing to do that, you can go pound sand," Amaro, if reports are to be believed, has told rival executives.
Yet, here we have a respected rumor person telling us that the Phillies aren't necessarily fixated on a single prospect at the expense of all others. In fact, we're now told, they're open to a number of possible packages of prospects as a return for their top pitcher.
If what we had before was unreasonable, deluded Ruben Amaro, what we have now is zen, go with the flow Ruben Amaro, who, by the way, also has DirecTV. For his New Year's Resolution, zen Ruben Amaro has taken up yoga and devoted 30 minutes each day to mindfulness practice. More relevant to our current interests, zen Amaro does not repeatedly shout the names of one or two prospects at potential trade partners until they either give in or hang up. Rather, zen Amaro thoughtfully considers the merits of a variety of trades and a multitude of prospects.
Zen Amaro will find a trade partner for Hamels, or maybe he'll keep him if The Way so dictates. At least he will once he returns from his 9am Bikram yoga class. He'll be more flexible and clear-headed then.