The big name heading into the trade deadline is Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who has a lot of teams after him, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, but has a better shot of ending up playing for either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Texas Rangers.
If anyone had any doubt about Hamels’ ability following two disappointing performances in which he allowed 14 earned runs in 6⅓ innings, came his no hitter against the Chicago Cubs this weekend and his overall ability this season, which keeps him among the best pitchers in Baseball, despite the unimpressive W-L record, which is always an overrated way of measuring a pitcher’s worth, especially when he’s playing for the worst team in baseball, getting some of the worst run support any start has had this season.
The Phillies want to get rid of Hamels. Not because he’s bad – excluding his starts before the no hitter he has a 2.80 ERA this season and his 1.181 WHIP isn’t too far from his usual numbers, but because he’s expensive. Picking up Hamels is almost like adding a pitcher in free agency, although it will cost teams some young talent, as his contract runs through 2018 ($23.5 million per season) with a $20 million team option or $24 million vesting option and a $6 million buyout for the fourth year remaining on the deal. Conditions: 1) Has 400 IP in 2017-18, including 200 IP in 2018, and 2) is not on the disabled list with a shoulder or elbow injury at the end of the 2018 season.
It does seem like almost every team in baseball is taking a look at Hamels, the 31-year old with three All-Star appearances and the 2008 World Series MVP. But while the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees and Giants are interested, the Dodgers and Rangers are rumored to be better positioned to put together a package the Phillies find satisfying in order to complete the deal.
Hamels is so alluring this time of year because the deal ends when he’s 34. Other big name pitcher free agents this offseason; David Price, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke (if he opts out) are all going to be looking for deals that take them into their late 30s, which often means a lot of wasted money for the teams paying for these huge deals. It’s not just about teams trying to make the playoffs this season; it’s about taking care of your rotation for the next few years.