The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be fielding offers for left-hander Cole Hamels, as sources tell Fox Sports' Jon Morosi that he is "available", albeit at a high price. The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be among the clubs interested in the 30-year-old former All-Star.
Philadelphia has frequently brushed off rumors that they would be willing to deal Hamels, with reports just yesterday indicating that he was not available. However, it makes quite a bit of sense to move Hamels, who is arguably the Phillies' best trade asset. As Dave Cameron wrote at Fangraphs last week, Hamels is a depreciating commodity based on his age and contract, so now would be the perfect time to sell high, especially in the midst of what is considered to be a sizable market for frontline arms.
At 46-59, the Phillies are clearly out of the playoff race for this season, and likely for at least the next few as well, since nearly everyone on the roster is available in trade talks. Realistically, by the time the Phillies are competitive again, Hamels will no longer be worth his enormous salary.
Hamels is enjoying a strong season for the Phillies, owning a 2.72 ERA, 137 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 3.21 K/BB, and 3.5 WAR in 122.1 innings. He has been worth 37.2 WAR since entering the league in 2007, and has been an instrumental part in the Phillies' run of success over the past decade. A three-time All-Star, Hamels has posted a below-average adjusted ERA just once in his career, and has struck out nearly four times as many batters as he has walked.
Hamels is currently in just the second year of a six-year, $144 million extension signed with the Phillies in 2012. He is owed just over $97 million over the next four and a half years and carries a $20 million team option for 2019 that becomes a $24 miilion vesting option if he throws at least 400 innings in 2017-2018 (including 200 in 2018), and is healthy at the end of the deal. He also has a 20-team no-trade list, which means he cannot block a trade to nine teams, including the Dodgers and Red Sox.
The Dodgers make plenty of sense as a suitor, having been heavily linked to high-end pitchers such as David Price and Jon Lester this summer. The Dodgers may be preparing to cut ties with Dan Haren, and could possibly lose Zack Greinke after next season if he uses his opt-out clause, so Los Angeles might actually have a need for a starting pitcher despite their outstanding rotation performance this season. There's also little doubt that a rotation trio of Greinke, Hamels, and Clayton Kershaw would be devastating down the stretch and in the postseason
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have inquired about Hamels, but have been turned away, with Philadelphia asking for "four or five" top prospects in return for the veteran southpaw. They now appear to be more focused on selling than buying, with a Jon Lester trade possibly in the works.
The Dodgers and Red Sox are also unique in that the each have highly regarded farm systems to go along with the payroll flexibility to take on a contract of Hamels' size.