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Phillies rumors: Cole Hamels market heats up

Hey whaddaya know? After a no-hitter, the Hamels suitors are checking in again.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Oh sure, NOW you want Cole Hamels.

One day after his no-hitter against the Cubs in Chicago, the Walking Trade Rumor, a.k.a. Cole Hamels, was the talk of baseball. And much of that talk was other team executives calling up Ruben Amaro's phone asking just how much the Phils' asking price went up by.

I kid, of course, because we all know baseball executives and the Phillies are not influenced by one little 'ol start, even if it was a dominant no-hitter.

But with the trade deadline just days away and some other starting pitching options off the board (Johnny Cueto to Kansas City and Scott Kazmir to Houston), the teams who are looking for quality starters are starting to sniff a bit harder and longer around the Phils.

Less money. Better players. I like it.

And even though they are just 47-50, in third place in the AL West, 7 1/2 games back of the division and 4 1/2 back in the wild card, the Texas Rangers appear to be sharing the lead in the clubhouse with the Los Angeles Dodgers to retain Hamels' services.

From Stark's piece:

The Rangers and Dodgers both had scouts in attendance at Hamels' no-hitter, as did the Yankees, Giants, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and several other clubs. But other than Texas and Los Angeles, those teams were described as doing their "due diligence" in monitoring the market for the 31-year-old left-hander.

Both the Rangers and Dodgers view Hamels as an attractive alternative to this winter's deep class of free-agent aces, because he is under contract for three more years after this season and has a team or vesting option for a fourth season. The guaranteed portion of his contract runs through only his age-34 season -- whereas a group of free agents in or approaching their 30s, such as David Price, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke (assuming he opts out), will be looking for deals that take them into their late 30s.

The Dodgers have long been rumored to be interested, and over the weekend it appeared as though the Cubs had been having serious discussions as well. And even though they are three games below .500, the Rangers are still technically in the hunt for one of the AL's two wild card spots, and would like to get Hamels with an eye on true contention in 2016.

However, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers feel they're not in the lead in the race to Hamels.

There is a growing feeling around Major League Baseball that either the Dodgers or the Rangers are going to end up with Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Privately, the Rangers are bracing to finish second in the competition. The Rangers are growing comfortable with the idea of paying Hamels $22.5 million annually through at least 2018. But they are still uncomfortable about giving up significant prospects, and the feeling is the Dodgers will be more aggressive in that regard. The Rangers are on the periphery of playoff contention, while the Dodgers are leading the National League West and have a greater urgency to try to win it all this season.

Sullivan reports the Rangers are also checking in on a couple non-rentals from San Diego, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. And, of course, there's James Shields, should the Padres officially make him available.

However, the Phils are probably pushing to get Texas to make a legitimate offer more than Los Angeles at the moment. The Rangers seem to have more of the type of prospects it would take to get a deal done, such as power hitting outfielder Nomar Mazara, catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and starting pitcher Jake Thompson, just to name a few. Mazara would be an excellent headliner, Alfaro would be a decent one, with lots of good secondary pieces from which to choose.

It's hard to see how a package with the Dodgers gets done without Julio Urias in it, unless the Phillies are willing to "settle" for Double-A pitcher Jose DeLeon, who has rocketed up prospect boards this year. And with Chicago, a deal almost has to include catcher/future outfielder Kyle Schwarber, not one of Starlin Castro or Javier Baez.

The New York Yankees reportedly called the Phillies about Hamels, after his no-hitter, although it's hard to understand why.

BRIAN CASHMAN - "Hey Ruben, it's Brian. Yeah, that was some performance on Saturday. Your boy was dealin'. Listen, we might be interested."

AMARO - "I like what I'm hearing. OK, what are you thinking?"

BRIAN CASHMAN - "Well, just to start, our four top guys are untouchable."

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BRIAN CASHMAN - "Ruben you there? Ruben?"

*dialtone*

And while Hamels' no-no should have increased the Phils' bargaining position, The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said in his Sunday column that the Phils may be bending when it comes to picking up more of Cole's salary.

The Phillies have been receptive to picking up some of the money in exchange for better talent in return. The Dodgers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Rangers (who appear to be the front-runners) could be in on Hamels.

However, it doesn't appear as if a deal is imminent. One way you'll be able to tell is if Hamels' scheduled start for Thursday, the day before the deadline, gets pushed back at some point in the next few days.

And despite the team's red-hot and mirage-like start to the second half of the season (8-1 since the All-Star break after their sweep of the Cubs), there has never been a better time to try and trade Cole Hamels.

INTEREST, NO MOVEMENT, ON PAPELBON

It doesn't appear as though much is going on with the team's other walking trade rumor, Jonathan Papelbon, as most teams are focused on finding starting pitching.

Over the weekend, we saw the Cubs yack away two save opportunities in Friday's game against the Phillies, and weak bullpens in Washington and Toronto have also cost those teams dearly recently. All three teams are reportedly interested in Papelbon, although the degree to which they are enthused appears to in question.

The Blue Jays and Nationals are seen as the two most likely destinations for controversial but consistent veteran Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. However, a third team has emerged, with the Cubs also in the mix as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

Washington, an interesting possible destination, has recently entered the fray, and some see the Nats as a real possibility. Although, it would be interesting to see how they could make either Papelbon or current closer Drew Storen, who like Papelbon has been one of the best in the league this year, happy in a set-up role.

It's seeming clearer and clearer that if Papelbon is going to be traded, it's going to happen very close to the deadline on Friday.