Cole Hamels has been at the center of most Boston Red Sox trade rumors at least since the midway point of the 2014 season, but despite reports that Boston General Manager Ben Cherington actually made a concrete offer for the Philadelphia Phillies’ 31-year-old All Star lefty, nothing has materialized by way of a viable deal.
In fact, at last report, the Red Sox are said to feel “no urgency” to nail down a Hamels deal, despite incessant calls from the fan base and media to add an “ace” to their starting staff.
Of course, whether the Red Sox, whose starting rotation features four new members since opening day 2014 — three of them added over the offseason — actually need an “ace” is a matter for debate. Former Red Sox starter Derek Lowe, who famously won all three postseason clinching games — ALDS Game 3, ALCS Game 7, and World Series Game 4 — in Boston’s landmark 2004 World Series run, became the latest to dismiss the necessity of a single Number One starter when he showed up at Red Sox spring training Saturday.
“If people look at my career, was I an ace? Absolutely not, but I pitched I think six opening days,” Lowe told Boston.com. “There’s only so many true aces. They many not have the No. 1, but how many teams really do?”
At the same time, Cherington has given no indication that the Red Sox have thrown in the towel on acquiring Hamels either.
So here’s a scenario that hasn’t yet surfaced — one that could at least be a start toward putting together a deal to bring Cole Hamels to Boston and provide the “ace” that the Red Sox may, or may not, need to bring themselves back to postseason form after 2104’s cellar-dwelling finish.
Via Hall of Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons, it’s known that the Atlanta Braves called the Red Sox shortly before Spring Training opened, expressing what Gammons described as a “strong interest” in promising, but struggling, 24-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley.
From earlier trade rumor reports, it’s also widely believed that the stumbling block to a Hamels deal has been Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro’s insistence on acquiring catcher Blake Swihart as part of that deal — and that’s where Cherington draws the line.
But the Braves also have a prime catching prospect in 22-year-old Panamanian import Christian Bethancourt. Granted, Bethancourt is not considered to be on Swihart’s level in terms of potential, but unlike Swihart, he has already played in 32 Major League games.
Here’s the question: Would be willing to take Bradley from Boston in what would clearly be a defensive upgrade in the outfield — then ship Bethancourt to Philadelphia to complete a three-way deal that would send Hamels to the Red Sox?
The scenario would likely take an additional top prospect to move from Boston into Philadelphia’s hands, and so far, Cherington has shown an unwillingness to part with any of his organization’s top minor leaguers.
But trade rumors have also swirled around the top Boston pitching prospect, 22-year-old Henry Owens. The wisdom of dealing a high-ceiling left-hander prospect like Owens may indeed be questionable, but adding him to the the three-way deal scenario might be just enough to bring Cole Hamels to the Red Sox before April 6 when Boston opens its 2015 season — where else? In Philadelphia against the Phillies.
[Image: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]
Correction: This article originally named Evan Gattis as the Braves current catcher, but Gattis was earlier traded to the Houston Astros.