The trade rumors involving Cole Hamels have circulated around the Boston Red Sox at least since last September. Boston General Manager Ben Cherington has stood pat when it comes to trying to pry the ace lefthanded hurler away from the faltering Philadelphia Phillies. Or so it seemed.
But the Red Sox hometown paper, The Boston Globe, reported on Sunday that Cherington had indeed made an offer to the Phillies for the Hamels — the team was one of four that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said had made serious offers for the 31-year-old who makes a particularly attractive trade target because he is under contract through the 2018 season with a team option for the 2019 campaign.
Amaro never said which four teams had made the concrete offers for Hamels, but the San Diego Padres were widely believed to be the front-runners in the Hamels sweepstakes because of the Padres need for a frontline starting pitcher to compete with its National League West Division powerhouse rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers and Giants have captured six of the last seven pennants in the division.
But Hamels also happens to be a native of San Diego, and was drafted in 2002 out of Rancho Bernardo High School in the Southern California city.
His hometown team, however, turned its back on Hamels last week by signing free agent pitcher James Shields to a four-year, $75 million deal that seemingly closes the door on the Padres quest for an ace at the top of its rotation.
The Shields move potentially puts the Red Sox right back in play to acquire Hamels. But what did Boston offer in exchange for the career 108-game winner, whose career ERA of 3.27 ranks him fifth among all active Major Leaguers?
“The package Boston offered was heavy on the major league side, trying to avoid giving up any of their top prospects,” wrote Globe veteran baseball scribe Nick Cafardo on Sunday. “Suffice it to say, that won’t get you Hamels. The Phillies are insistent on prospects, and if they don’t get them now they’ll wait until the trade deadline when there might be more desperation by teams seeking to win.”
When Carardo says the deal is “heavy on the major league side,” who, exactly, is he talking about? Red Sox Major League shortstop Xander Bogaerts is still only 22-years-old and despite struggles in 2014, is considered to have a high ceiling once he matures. His name has previously been mentioned in rumors of a Cole Hamels trade package.
For that matter, Mookie Betts is also only 22 and proved that he can hit big league pitching at a high level, batting.291 with a healthy.812 OPS in 213 plate appearances with Boston last season.
But the Red Sox have team leader Dustin Pedroia as a fixture at Betts primary position, second base. And Cuban signee Rusney Castillo appears pegged to start in center field, where Betts played most if his innings in 2014.
Betts is also clearly Major League talent, but young enough to be considered a “prospect,” and surely a player Amaro would covet in a Cole Hamels trade.
Will the Red Sox part with either of their top young players to bring Cole Hamels to Boston? With the opening of Spring Training camps just a week away, the answer could come shortly.
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