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Trade rumor grade: Cole Hamels returning to the Phillies?

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Hamels could have one last hurrah with the team

San Diego Padres v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Welcome back to our trade rumor grading factory, where we break apart the many rumors swirling around during the month of July in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. Some are legit, some are blatantly unlikely, and others are somewhere in-between. One thing that’s for sure is most of them will involve a team that has no hopes of making the postseason sell, sell, selling.

The rumor

The Rangers are in 5th place in the AL West, 16.5 games back from the lead and completely out of the postseason race. There have already been whispers that Adrian Beltre is on the trade block, which makes sense, and now Cole Hamels has appeared to join him. Jon Heyman reports the Phillies are a potential landing spot should Hamels be shipped out of Texas.

Why it makes sense for the Rangers to trade Hamels

Besides the obvious lack of incentive to hold on to top players who aren’t under team control for more than another full season after this one when you’re 38-47 on July 3rd, Hamels in particular is a worthy target to try to get off the roster specifically because of what he’s owed: either $20 million in 2019 if the team picks up his option, or $6 million if they want to buy him out before next year.

Hamels is currently 4.05 ERA and a 112 ERA+, with 9.1 SO/9 (one of the best marks of his career in that category). He’s already given up two more home runs than he did all last year and his WHIP and FIP are the second and first highest of his career at 1.300 and 5.00, respectively. But those numbers are still more than enough for the Rangers to get a return for his arm.

Why it would make sense for the Phillies to trade for Hamels

Hamels is 34 years old, has pitched for over a decade, and is fast-approaching 2,500 innings of work. Wherever he lands might not be the last place he pitches but there’s a chance that’s the case, and regardless he’s not getting another payday like his current contract. He might want a place that could give him another one-year deal in 2020, and the sentimentality of his relationship with the Phillies might give him exactly that.

He (of course) spent the first nine-plus years of his career in Philadelphia, winning a World Series in 2008 and being selected as World Series MVP that year. He’s a 4-time All-Star (three with the Phillies), and though he’s never won a Cy Young Award he’s been mentioned in the conversation for this year’s honor. Between their history and his numbers, this isn’t an unreasonable idea.

There might be better starts out there, but with so many teams in the hunt for starting pitching right now the Phillies cutting a deal for Hamels and using him as a fourth or fifth guy in the rotation doesn’t not make sense.

Rumor grade

B+. Heyman himself noted it’s early for these talks to mean much, but the situation makes sense for both sides here. Phillies fans might want their team to go after more of a dominant arm, but if those arms are being sucked up by the Red Sox, Yankees, or Mariners then Hamels is a more-than-serviceable option. Sometimes a shared history really can be the difference on whether a deal is realistic or not.