The Texas Rangers emerged as a suitor for Cole Hamels just the other day for the first time in a published report. A report out of Dallas this morning suggests that these talks are ongoing. However, money is an issue.
The Rangers have remained in contact with Philadelphia about Hamels, a person familiar with the process said on Thursday. The stumbling block appears to be money.
Hamels is guaranteed $96 million over the remainder of his contract, which ends with a club option for 2019 at $20 million. The Rangers would need Philadelphia to absorb some of that salary. How much the Phillies would be willing to eat would hinge on which prospects the Rangers would be willing to include in a deal.
The idea of the Phillies eatin money seems silly, since Hamels is priced just right for an ace pitcher in his prime. In fact, James Shields reportedly has a deal on the table that will pay him more than Hamels.
The Phillies would be willing to eat some money, for sure, but if they do, the return better be high. The Phillies already are criticized for wanting too much in a trade for Hamels. Today, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote:
The Phillies say they are open to moving Hamels for the right package. The problem, the rival exec speculated, is that Amaro wants to make the "perfect" deal -- and perhaps needs such a deal to keep his job.
Amaro is not alone in the Hamels talks; the Phillies' former GM, interim CEO Pat Gillick, also is involved in the discussions. The Phillies, though, are in something of a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don't position.
They do not want to waste their biggest chip by making a questionable trade. But they also do not want to risk Hamels getting hurt by carrying him into the season -- remember, Hamels did not pitch until April 23 last year due to left biceps tendinitis.
The risk that Hamels gets injured is enough that it could ruin the Phillies' best chance to rebuild, as they learned last season with Cliff Lee.
It would behoove the Phillies to eat salary if they are goin to get better. The Rangers stifled themselves with contacts like Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, and Elvis Andrus. Now they have to pay... in prospect form. With their highest payroll ever in 2014 and mediocre results, the Rangers need Hamels if they hope to make any use of this other high-priced talent.