With the 2015 MLB trade deadline just a few days away, it appears that Cole Hamels’ days as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies are numbered. The starting pitcher is likely to be dealt by Friday, and two teams have emerged as the favorites to land the left-hander.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers are the most likely destinations for Hamels, multiple sources told ESPN. Hamels has been at the center of trade rumors for much of the season, and his trade value appears to have increased after his no-hitter on Saturday.
The Dodgers have been looking to get a better No.3 starter for the last few weeks, but Hamels looks like a more attractive option now than he did before the All-Star break. The San Diego native proved to scouts in attendance on Saturday that he can still be one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the number of available top starters continues to decrease. Scott Kazmir was traded to the Houston Astros last week, and the Cincinnati Reds sent Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals over the weekend.
Texas will have a difficult time making the playoffs, but they are interested in Hamels as a long-term solution. Unlike Kazmir and Cueto, Hamels is under contract through 2018. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Philadelphia favors the Rangers’ prospects over what other teams are offering.
Teams haven’t been willing to match Philadelphia’s asking price, but the Rangers and Dodgers might be willing to increase their offers. The Dodgers have MLB’s best one-two punch with starters Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and adding Hamels might make Los Angeles the favorite to win the World Series. The big issue for Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, is whether to include top prospects Corey Seager, a left-sided infielder, or Julio Urias, an 18-year-old southpaw, in a deal. Earlier this month, top scouting publication Baseball America listed Seager as the No. 1 prospect in the minors, with Urias at No. 4. Right-handed starter Jose De Leon is listed at No. 20.
Texas was active at last year’s trade deadline, but held on to their most prized prospect. Joey Gallo, the Rangers' No. 1 pick in 2012, is perhaps the most coveted young power hitter in baseball. The 21-year-old has 87 at-bats this season, and has played at third base, left field and had one game in center field. On Monday, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Rangers will likely add Hamels.
The Chicago Cubs saw just how good Hamels can be when they were no-hit for the first time since 1965, and they are also looking to add a starter before the trade deadline. The New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox have talked to the Phillies about a possible trade, as well.
Hamels has a losing record, and his no-hitter gave him his first win in two months. The nine-inning, 13-strikeout performance might have been needed for the Phillies to get equal value in return for Hamels, considering he had been struggling for the past two months.
Hamels had pitched better than his numbers might indicate though. He had two outings in which he pitched seven innings and didn’t allow a run, but he didn’t pick up the victory in either game.
ESPN reports that a trade isn’t likely to be made before Tuesday. Jeff Samardzija and David Price are the best starting pitchers other than Hamels that could be dealt this week.