For seemingly an entire year now, Cole Hamels has been at the center of trade speculation. Not a week has passed without someone asking about the Phillies' star pitcher, and how close they were to trading him; but there was never a good answer.
Even for most of July, there was nothing more than the occasional rumor that a team had shown interest, or that a scout was in attendance. However it appears that the Phillies are now serious about dealing their biggest trade chip.
According to Jayson Stark the "Phillies have told several teams interested in acquiring Cole Hamels that they'd like to get their 'best' offers by Wednesday...The team would then make a decision about where -- and whether -- to trade him". While there is a slight possibility that Philadelphia could choose to keep Hamels, and flip him in the winter once Andy MacPhail "formally take[s] control of the team", that doesn't seem likely; especially considering the recent news on his next start.
Phillies have pushed Cole Hamels back until Friday— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) July 28, 2015
While there's always the chance of a mystery team, Stark notes that the Phillies have had talks with the Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Giants, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Red Sox. However, only half of those teams appear to be realistic suitors, as the "Phillies initiated [half of] those talks in an attempt to reopen discussion about whom those clubs had said previously they'd be unwilling to trade."
It's impossible to know exactly which half the aforementioned teams would fall under, but the Dodgers would be a good guess, as their front office has "been steadfast in their refusal to part with top shortstop Corey Seager and top young lefty Julio Urias". The Rangers had been seen as the favorite as recently as yesterday, while Ken Rosenthal reported that the Giants were becoming more serious contenders.
They certainly have financial flexibility coming up, but as Stark noted in his original article, "they still appear to be having a hard time meeting the Phillies' asking price. One source's description of those talks Tuesday morning consisted of two words: 'Nothing Happening.'" San Francisco would likely have to part with Tyler Beede, whom they value highly, and immediately halted trade talks for an unknown pitcher when Lucius Fox's name was brought up.
The Astros have also jumped back into the mix for Hamels, despite reportedly being told in late June that he would block a trade to Houston.
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
It seems safe to assume that Hamels may have changed his mind at this point, as it would be pointless for the two teams to be discussing anything if he would ultimately veto their agreement. There has been a lot of talk about where Hamels will go, and it looks like we'll finally have an answer in the next 72 hours.