Report: Rangers Scouting Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels

colehamels

From Ken Rosenthal: "he Rangers are scouting Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels and Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke as potential trade candidates, according to major-league sources."

Or not. Peter Gammons says the Rangers won't be entering the Greinke Sweepstakes.

What about Cole Hamels, though? Will the Phillies give him up? And do the Rangers have what it takes to get him? Rosenthal:

The Phillies are seeking a long-term answer at third base and likely would ask the Rangers for star prospect Mike Olt in a trade for Hamels. Olt, who is blocked at third base in Texas by Adrian Beltre, has been one of the best hitters in the minor leagues this year. He has a 1.005 OPS with 20 home runs in 70 games at Class AA Frisco. The Rangers would be very reluctant to part with Olt in any trade.

As they should be. Mitch Moreland's having a pretty good season, but it doesn't look like he's going to become a star and might just settle in as a nice platoon player for a few years. Even with Beltré locked up for a few more years, there might be openings at third base and DH within a year or two. If Olt keeps hitting -- and right now he's hitting 304/412/593 in the Texas League, granted he's almost 24 -- the Rangers will find a place for him. Without even having to work too hard.

That said, Olt shouldn't be untouchable. Because he's 24.

Then again, neither should Beltré. Because he's 33.

The Phillies are "seeking a long-term answer at third base"? Adrián Beltré is signed through 2016. Even if this season is lost, you know the Phillies are planning to compete in 2013 and beyond. Is Beltré's deal probably look a bit extravagant in the out-years? Sure. But when has that ever stopped them before.

Wait, what's that? Oh. Right. Ryan Howard. Including this season, the Phillies owe him $125 million through 2016.

Aside from the obvious overpay when Howard got that deal, there was something else that teams seem to rarely consider: opportunity cost. Sure, maybe the Phillies could "afford" to overpay Howard, because they've got plenty of money and he's got plenty of intangibles. But unless you assume an unlimited budget, that $125 million is $125 million they won't spend on another player. Say, a top-notch third baseman who's barely older than Howard and is making $82 million over that same span.

Look, I'm not saying the Rangers would trade Beltré; they probably wouldn't, considering Olt's still in the Texas League. I'm not saying the Phillies should, considering lots of stuff. I'm saying that committing a huge amount of money to a player necessarily limits your flexibility down the road. And in the world of baseball management, flexibility is the coin of the realm.

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