The latest Major League Baseball trade rumors don’t paint a pretty picture for the Boston Red Sox in their quest to acquire lefty ace Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies. Rumors have swirled around a Hamels move to the Red Sox ever since Boston traded away its own former left-handed Number One starter Jon Lester at the trade deadline in 2014.
With Lester now permanently gone from Boston, signing a long-term contract with the Chicago Cubs, the hopes of Red Sox nation again turned to Hamels, whose statistics look remarkably similar to Lester’s. He is also approximately the same age as Lester — Hamels turned 31 on December 27 — and who, most importantly, is under contract through 2018 with a team option for another year after that.
Hamel’s price tag of about $22.5 million per season for the remainder of that contract, while obviously hefty, is less than what Lester commanded from the Cubs.
But according to Hall of Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons, a potential Red Sox deal for Hamels is now off the table, for reasons that could be seen as either bad news or good news by Boston fans.
Obviously, it’s bad news if you believe that the Red Sox top priority should be acquiring an “ace” starting pitcher. While Boston General Manager Ben Cherington has remade his starting rotation with three mid-level acquisitions in Arizona’s Wade Miley, Detroit’s Rick Porcello, and former Red Sox starter Justin Masterson, who returns to the club after stints in Cleveland and St. Louis, he appears to be counting on injury-prone Clay Buchholz to finally put together a full season as an elite starter.
While Buchholz has undoubtedly shown that he possesses the skill set to rank among baseball’s elite level starters, he has never gone a full season without a serious injury or some other form of collapse that saw him sink into mediocrity.
But Cherington’s new reluctance to deal for Hamels is good news for fans who would rather that Red Sox hold on to their top home grown prospects. According to Gammons, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro had his sights set on Red Sox projected leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who posted an impressive.368 on-base percentage with five home runs and seven stolen bases in 10 tries in his 52-game rookie debut with Boston in 2014.
Cherington, however, has put his foot down on the possibility of parting with the promising 22-year-old from Tennessee, who was Boston’s fifth-round draft pick in 2011.
Nor will the Red Sox GM part with catching prospect Blake Swihart, according to Gammons, even though the emergence of Christian Vasquez, another Boston catching prospect, would appear to make Swihart an expendable trade chip, and one whom Amaro might have been willing to take in a deal for Hamels.
There is one piece of the apparent failure to deal for Cole Hamels, however, that will come as bad news to every Red Sox fan, regardless, and that’s this.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 21, 2014
If the rumors are true, expect the Boston Red Sox to be seeing plenty of Cole Hamels in 2015 and beyond — in Yankee pinstripes.