We learned yesterday that both Cole Hamels and Marlon Byrd were claimed on waivers by unknown teams. The Phillies have a 48-hour window with the claiming teams to work out a deal, give the player to the other team and they assume the full contract, or simply retract that player's waivers and keep the player.
Mike Missanelli of 97.5 the Fanatic reported some interesting news:
My info sez the CUBS put in the waiver claim on Cole Hamels. Would the Phils trade him there now and would Cole accept?— Mike Missanelli (@MikeMiss975) August 7, 2014
CSN Chicago picked up the report and the rumors seem to have some traction.
The Chicago Cubs are not a contending team in 2014. So, why would they claim Hamels? The answer is that the Cubs are getting closer to contending.
Upon Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer joining the Cubs front office, they began cashing out any and all assets that the team had. Further, they spent money on some international free agents like outfielder Jorge Soler. As the team looks to turn the corner and find their way into contention, they have way more top prospects than they have positions to play them.
The Phillies realistically could get three top prospects for Hamels from the Cubs. We know in the past the Phillies liked Soler. The Cubs have not one, but two top shortstop prospects. (Yes, the Phillies have J.P. Crawford, but like all prospects, he is no guarantee). Javier Baez just made his debut (but at second base). The Cubs also have Addison Russell at shortstop, acquired as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal. The Cubs also have all-star shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Arismendy Alcantara in their infield.
The Phillies could use catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber, given Tommy Joseph's uncertain future and have options for him either way. Outfielder Albert Almora was a first round pick in 2012 and could also help the Phillies later.
There is definitely extra inventory the Cubs can move that could be the first step in the Phillies' new foundation, and help the Cubs take their next step forward, too. The Cubs can take Hamels' salary no problem, because their moves were about talent, not money. The Phillies have a chance to do the same thing right now. I am not sure what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have to offer the Phillies right now, but I would think there is enough to make this a good deal for the Phillies.
A side note: as many have pointed out today, if this deal does not get done now, it very well could happen in the offseason, with some groundwork laid.
Plus, the Phillies have money. In a couple years, they can take someone else's Hamels.