Plenty of speculation will swirl between now and Friday's trade deadline, although it appears the Texas Rangers lead the Cole Hamels sweepstakes by a slim margin. The Los Angeles Dodgers are also actively engaged with Phillies management regarding the services of the 31-year old lefty, but talks have hit snags due to L.A.'s inability to part with SS Corey Seager and young LHP Julio Urias. Philadelphia has stressed their expected return in exchange for Hamels would need to include one of those prospects.
The Texas Rangers, however, seem more inclined to part with top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara, both whom are highly coveted in Texas' farm system. In Alfaro, Phillies would receive much needed backup for aging Carlos Ruiz and the unproductive Cameron Rupp. In Mazara, they'd receive someone who'd slot into Ben Revere's position, assuming the Phillies are willing to listen to offers on him. It's unclear whether any deal with Texas Rangers would include cash or salary absorption.
Just 4.5 games out of the second wild card, the Rangers appear poised to both grab someone able to lead their pitching staff, and let go of Yovani Gallardo. Los Angeles, on the other hand, wants another ace to slip into the No. 3 spot, and was taken aback they lost out on Johnny Cueto. Texas seems more aggressive in pursuing top-notch talent to help them win now, but could also set tight boundaries between prospects they'd let go of, and which are off the table completely. The American League West will ultimately come down to Los Angeles Angels and Houston, but expect Texas to significantly change that fabric should they receive pitching help.
Although Texas Rangers executives have expressed a greater willingness to negotiate, they're skeptical in their ability to land Hamels although they've been neck and neck with Los Angeles for over one week. With Yu Darvish an uncertain part of Rangers' future plans, and Adrian Beltre more than likely done if Texas fails to make the playoffs, adding both position players and front end rotation help would definitely increase Texas' chances of making postseason play, albeit at the second wild card spot.
Cole Hamels has team control until after 2018, with an option. He regularly clocked 94-96 into the 9th inning of his no-hitter against Chicago. His health has been tremendous over his MLB tenure, which makes him easily the pitcher of choice this trade deadline. Detroit has vehemently denied they're selling, which means David Price pandemonium will wait until after the MLB playoffs. Texas Rangers and Detroit are running neck and neck for the second wild card spot, but Detroit hasn't officially announced they're buying.
Whoever lands Hamels will ultimately land an ace with 3-5 good pitching years left.
[Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images Sport]