Last week, we learned that the Phillies were still in discussions with the Red Sox and had scouted the Texas Rangers minor league system to see if there was a potential fit. Boston has been named as the frontrunner ever since Hamels was officially put on the market, and are still viewed as the favorites, but there is a new wrinkle that could open up the bidding.
While Philadelphia has always maintained that they'd be willing to eat some of the contract, "Per the source, the Phillies now are willing to take on more of Hamels' remaining salary than they had been earlier in the season."
Here's why that's important
Over the rest of the guaranteed contract, Hamels is owed $67.5 million, along with a club option (which the acquiring team will be forced to pick up) for $20 million.
That translates to four years of an AAV of $21.875, which is already below market value for a 31-year old left-hander. It's impossible to know how much money the club is willing to send along in any deal, but a total of $7.5 would knock the AAV to $20 million, and seems like a good starting point.
Those frustrating Phillies
The Phillies are dismal, as they're already 10 games out of first with a record of 19-33. Simply put, they're an awful team with no hopes of contention. While they have other trade chips like Aaron Harang and Jonathan Papelbon, Hamels is the shiny gold egg for the Phillies. He could bring back an amazing package of prospects that could dramatically alter the Phillies' future.
This means teams previously on the fence could be interested
Front offices should be stirring this morning with GM's and their respective staffs pouring through financial data and minor league systems to see if they can throw their hat into the Cole Hamels ring. Teams like the Red Sox and Dodgers should should be considered the frontrunners, as they could complete a deal even without financial help; but now teams like the Astros and Royals might have a more realistic shot.
Houston has been rumored to be looking at the starting pitching market, and now may take a serious look at Hamels. They have a stacked minor league system, and would be able to deal from a point of strength. Carlos Correa and Mark Appel are likely untouchable, but Preston Tucker, and other minor leaguers would probably be available. The Astros have the 11th best starting pitching fWAR in baseball (4.2), but most of that value comes from Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Scott Feldman (3.4).
The Royals are another team that should be picking up the phone and asking Ruben Amaro just how much money they're willing to send along. In 2016, the Royals have seven players set for arbitration, and already have roughly $73 million committed; a figure which would rise to $87 million should Alex Gordon use his player option. With Hamels, that total amount rises to $108.875, which is surprisingly already within their payroll. The financial side of a potential deal seems to work out, so all the Royals would have to do is provide a prospect package that Amaro agrees with.
According to Baseball America, they have the 13th best farm system in baseball, but seem to lack the über prospect that Amaro so desperately wants. Bubba Starling finally seems to be putting things together but needs to prove himself against better competition. The Hamels rumors are only going to heat up as the deadline approaches, and with the Phillies willing to send more money in a deal, we should see more interest throughout the league.