I get the feeling I'm being USED here, people.
The rumor mill was a-churnin' on Monday as the national writers were doing their thing, making phone calls, chatting up league "executives," "scouts," "general managers," "peanut vendors," and "family members with strong opinions" to bring us all the latest sweet, sweet hot rumory goodness right out of the oven.
And they have not disappointed. By my count there are now potentially eight suitors that we know about for Hamels, although it's fair to be skeptical just how serious most of them really are.
So, let's slog through them. The latest has the Houston Astros, even after the acquisition of Scott Kazmir from Oakland, making a strong push to land the Phillies' ace left-hander.
The #Astros remain in the thick of the Cole Hamels bidding, even after Kazmir trade. They're making big push, source says.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 28, 2015
I'm still not sure I understand Hamels' reported reluctance to go to Houston, even if they come up with the best package and guarantee to pick up his fourth year option. They're a winning ballclub, and it's not like Hamels doesn't want to play in the state of Texas, as the Rangers are one of the teams not on his no-trade list.
Right now, the general consensus is that the Rangers are the leaders for Hamels' services, with Dallas Morning News reporter Gerry Fraley telling ESPN's Buster Olney that the teams are swapping names and financials.
Joey Gallo's name has not come up in trade discussions, he's off limits. The name that is most intriguing is outfield prospect Nomar Mazara, with fellow outfielder Nick Williams also in the conversation. Here's how the two compare.
Mazara (20): .284/.355/.444 12 HRs .799 OPS Williams (21) .302/.361/.488 13 HRs .848 OPS Minor league stats are dumb but here they are.— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) July 27, 2015
The Rangers also have a catching prospect named Jorge Alfaro, a 22-year-old who hit .253/.314/.432 for an OPS of .746 with five home runs. He's seen as an offensive catcher, but is a top-100 prospect and one of the best catching prospects in baseball. He is out for the rest of the season in need of ankle surgery, but it's not expected to affect him next year or long term.
There are also two starting pitching prospects that are highly regarded in the Texas system, 23-year-old Chi Chi Gonzalez, who has made seven starts for the Rangers this year, posting a 3.74 ERA in seven starts, including one complete game shutout. The other is a 21-year-old named Jake Thompson, who has a 4.41 ERA in Double-A with a 1.420 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9.
Of course, like every other Cole Hamels suitor, the Rangers are playing hard to get.
What the Phillies need to say to Texas, and anyone else they talk to, is something quite simple.
"We will give you however much money you want as long as we get to pick the prospects." As long as the teams work along that sliding scale, a deal should be reached. But too many teams want to steal Hamels from the Phils without giving up anything they really like, AND, they want the Phillies to pay for it.
Not gonna happen.
Even so, there is a lot of smoke surrounding Texas, but there was another entrant in the Hamels sweepstakes on Monday, too.
This will not take long to analyze. The Diamondbacks don't have much to offer. Any time spent seriously considering them as an alternative is probably a waste.
The teams that are conspicuously quiet right now are the Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox. Los Angeles desperately needs a front-line starter, and one wonders if Detroit is ever going to make David Price available. One wonders if talks between the Phils and these three teams are a bit more hush-hush. One wonders if the Rangers and Astros and Diamondbacks talk isn't all a smokescreen while the serious parties work to get the job done.
RENEWED INTEREST IN PAPELBON?
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki hinted on Monday that there is renewed interest in Jonathan Papelbon, with the Cubs, Blue Jays and Washington Nationals all seemingly interested. But with a flooded closers market right now, teams may be waiting to see where the bigger name closers go before investing in Papelbon.
While watching Papelbon pitch for the Nats would be incredibly fun, it's unlikely he'll wind up there. Papelbon has said he will not go anyplace to which he won't be the closer, and the Nationals already have a closer in Drew Storen. Papelbon can also block a trade to 17 teams, but the Cubs are not one of them. He can block trades to Toronto and Washington.
REVERE TO THE ANGELS STILL POSSIBLE
Despite adding former Phillie Shane Victorino on Monday, the Los Angeles Angels say they are still not ruling out bringing another outfielder aboard this week.
angels still seek a lefty hitting OF. victorino acquisition was for depth purposes. bruce, murphy, revere are names linked.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 28, 2015
Make all the jokes you want to about Revere, but the man does two things very well. He hits .300 and he steals a lot of bases. And that ain't bad.
So far this year, Revere is hitting .302/.340/.381 with an fWAR of 1.9, despite not playing every day. Since leaving center field to take a corner outfield position, his defensive metrics have improved too, and any team looking for a left-handed lead-off hitter with speed should have their eyes on Revere.
And while it appeared at first that the Victorino signing meant Revere wouldn't be going to Anaheim, it appears as if that possibility still exists.