Recently we learnt the Philadelphia Phillies have made former ace pitcher, Cole Hamels available via the trade market. While an extension is still a possibility, albeit an outside chance, the Phillies are said to be seeking a minimum of three good, young pieces according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Buster Olney reports that the price tag will be four or five prospects in order to acquire one of the best left-handers in the game.
That is precisely what the Red Sox are missing this year; an ace type pitcher who can be relied upon to stop a losing skid when called upon. The type of pitcher that puts a feeling of comfort in the rest of the club when he’s on the mound.
There is a need in Boston for a Cole Hamels type pitcher, but is there a need to unload three, maybe four prospects? We’ve heard that is likely going to be the asking price for Matt Garza of the Cubs and when it comes down to it, Hamels would be preferred over Garza, despite the former Rays success against the rest of the AL East. All Hamels has done is win a World Series, was named a World Series and NLCS MVP and is a three-time all-star. Not bad for a 28-year old who’s been in the big leagues for seven years.
He owns a career record of 84-58 with a 3.39 ERA, a 1.137 WHIP, a 8.5 SO/9 and a 2.3 BB/9. Basically ace type material right? Well, maybe not. Consider this is the same guy who has never won more than 15 games in a season (2007) and has logged 200+ innings only three times out of the seven in his career. His postseason success helps offset some of the less than stellar regular season numbers, something that will be more than appealing for a club trying to make it to the October dance.
He’s off to a strong start this year at 10-4 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.099 WHIP with a 9.0 SO/9 and 2.3 BB/9 and no one should be surprised given it’s his contract year. That is the other factor for the Red Sox to consider; Hamels will be a free-agent after this season and he’s set to cash in during the off season.
Currently Hamels is making $15MM and because he would be the biggest free-agent pitcher on the market next winter he is surely destined for a raise. The Red Sox would be foolish to rent Hamels for two months of the year considering how many highly sought after prospects it will take to make the deal happen. Thus a long-term deal would almost be a necessity to keep Hamels in Boston well beyond the second half of this season.
Some of the recent contracts we have seen for starting pitchers have set the bar meaning Hamels could fetch around $20 million per year with a seven or eight year deal attached to it. This is where Boston could become squeamish with the deal. We’ve seen two massive contracts bring question into their worth in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The last thing this team needs is another 7-year deal that could handcuff the club down the road. Is he worth taking the chance on for that amount of money for that many years?
We also learnt, courtesy of Olney that the Phils are focused on acquiring help at third base and in the outfield. Unfortunately the Red Sox just unloaded a third baseman in Kevin Youkilis but one area they are going to be swimming with players is the outfield. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are set to make the double-A appearances early this week meaning a return to the big leagues is likely only weeks away. Suddenly a youngster like Daniel Nava or Ryan Kalish could be packaged with Jose Iglesias and one other prospect to try and lure Hamels to Boston.
So if the Red Sox are serious about making a run at the postseason this year, they will need to address their starting pitching and Hamels is surely to be tied into those conversations. Whether or not Ben Cherington is willing to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal remains to be seen. If he learnt anything from Theo it’s that sometimes chances are worth taking while others are best left alone. You be the judge as to which way you think Ben should go on this one.