This publication has discussed bringing Cole Hamels to the Boston Red Sox a few times, during the offseason, but would the cost be more than necessary? Maybe, or maybe it will be less costly than Rick Porcello.
Scott Lauber of BostonHerald.com recently released an article, expressing how top Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart could make sense to be the sacrifice made for Hamels to make the move from the Philadelphia Phillies. “Swihart’s future is a matter of projection. He batted .293 with 13 homers and an .810 OPS in 110 games last season, the final 18 of which came in Triple-A. That’s promising, but not quite [Buster Posey]-esque. In his age-22 season, one year before reaching the majors, the San Francisco Giants star batted .325 with 18 homers and a .947 OPS” (Lauber, BostonHerald.com).
While Lauber is right that any prospect’s numbers are a matter of perspective, and he never says that the Red Sox should move Swihart, the number that stands out in this deal is the $94 million that Boston would have to pay Hamels if a deal was made.
Hamels’ contract with the Phillies requires the team to pay $23.5 million a season until 2019, where $20 million includes a $24 million vesting option and a $6 million buyout clause. The vesting option has built into it that he cannot have a shoulder or elbow injury in 2018. The 6’3″, 31-year-old lefty from San Diego, California may have been a great pitcher on a bad team, earning a record of 9-9, with a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts, but that kind of money makes him the long-term plan for the Red Sox. Having a shoulder or elbow written into a contract can be seen as insurance or a worry, when it comes to that strategy.
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello (21) at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
However, looking at the current starting rotation, the Red Sox may be paying out for another pitcher in the near future, regardless. Rick Petriello of FanGraphs reported that Rick Porcello should be putting on pitching clinics this season, as he approaches free agency:”The righty will enter free agency in advance of his age-27 campaign and remains a candidate to put up a big year in Boston. Even if he ends up with more typical results than a true breakout, and even accounting for robust market supply, his age could make him a $100M player” (Todd, MLBTradeRumors.com). The 6’5″ righty from New Jersey earned a record of 15-13, with a 3.43 ERA and 129 strikeouts, last season with the Detroit Tigers. He also pitched three complete game shutouts. In a league where every team, especially in the American League East, needs a top pitcher, or arguably an ace, these numbers have Porcello starting a successful road similar to Hamels, financially as well as on the field.
Lauber stated, “go ahead and call [Phillies general manager Ruben] Amaro stubborn for not lowering his demands. But aren’t the Red Sox being just as obstinate?” (Lauber, BostonHerald.com). Looking at how Porcello will want Hamels-type money, the Red Sox will have to pay for someone. Hamels has less years left on his career, but at least his contract is set. Porcello may cost the Red Sox more and he may not be as talented as Hamels. Do you want a lefty, who is proven to be great in the National League, coming to shut down all of the lefty bats in the AL East? Or, do you want a righty, who could get even better, becoming your ace for the foreseeable future? The Red Sox might not be obstinate; they might just like Porcello more, and don’t want to tip their hand at the free-agent table just yet.