Change in Philadelphia Phillies approach to Cole Hamels trade talks hurts Boston Red Sox


After wrapping up a miserable month of May in which they compiled a 10-19 record and dropped to the bottom of the division, the Boston Red Sox may feel compelled to make a drastic move to save their season. If acquiring Cole Hamels to anchor their rotation was the remedy they had in mind, the Philadelphia Phillies may be making it more difficult for the Red Sox to make it happen.

A major league source has revealed to’s Rob Bradford that the Phillies have altered their approach to trade talks involving Hamels by indicating they are now more willing to take on more of his remaining salary in order to facilitate a trade.

Hamels is making $22.5 million this season. Any team that trades for him mid-season would be responsible for paying a prorated amount of that salary, plus they would be on the hook for the remaining $67.5 million that Hamels is owed over the next three seasons. The 31-year old lefty also has a $20 million club option in 2019 that Hamels may insist on being guaranteed as part of the deal.

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The hefty price tag attached to Hamels may be too steep for many teams to swallow, but that could change if Philadelphia is willing to eat a significant chunk of that contract. The Phillies are more concerned with receiving a package of elite prospects in return for their ace, which has been a roadblock in their negotiations with the Red Sox, who have refused to part with talented cornerstone pieces such as Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts.

Boston’s owners have deep pockets, so paying Hamels isn’t as much of a concern for them as it would be for most teams. The Red Sox are hoping the price will drop in terms of the prospects they are asking for in return, but that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, there may be other teams willing to surrender the bounty Philadelphia is asking for as long as they don’t need to pay his contract in full. By offering to pay a portion on his remaining contract, the Phillies are opening the field to other teams that previously could never have hoped to afford Hamels, increasing the competition the Red Sox will have on the trade market.

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Hamels leads the NL with 74.1 innings pitched and ranks 10th in the league with a 2.91 ERA. Over his last five starts he has pitched at least 7 innings and given up 2 runs or less. None of the starters in the Red Sox rotation have done that 5 times all season, let alone 5 in a row.

While the Red Sox staff has shown noticeable improvement since their horrid start, the starting rotation is still 29th in the majors with a collective 5.05 ERA. Hamels would provide an immediate upgrade that could be worth several additional wins over the remainder of the season as a replacement for the struggling Joe Kelly, who has provided below replacement level value.

The Phillies have reportedly been scouting the Red Sox farm system in search of an acceptable package of prospects after having been told that Boston’s two top young players are off limits. That would suggest that a trade remains a real possibility, but Philadelphia’s willingness to take on some of Hamels’ salary seems to hurt Boston’s chances more than it helps.