Cole Hamels would have pitched for Red Sox


Cole Hamels reveals that he would have agreed to come to Boston had the Red Sox managed to work out a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last year.

A year ago the Boston Red Sox were searching for a front line starting pitcher to anchor their rotation and Cole Hamels was the hottest name on the trade market.

It was well known throughout the game that the sinking Philadelphia Phillies were in a position where they essentially had to trade away their ace in order to jump start their rebuilding process. The Red Sox had long been rumored to have interest in Hamels, who they hoped would fill the void at the front of their rotation. A top of the line starter became Boston’s biggest need ever since they dealt Jon Lester away at the 2014 trade deadline.

Then Hamels, another lefty with a similar statistical resume, who happens to be the same age and is already under a far more reasonable contract than Lester ended up getting, suddenly becomes available. It was almost too perfect. Except the Red Sox front office, at the time led by Ben Cherington, was unable to close the deal and Hamels instead ended up going to the Texas Rangers.

At the time, we were led to believe that the no-trade clause in Hamels’ contract was a roadblock that impeded their pursuit of the All-Star starter, but apparently that was never the case. With the Red Sox in Texas this weekend to take on the Rangers, Hamels was asked about whether or not he would have blocked a deal to Boston. Turns out, he wouldn’t have.

"“It’s a team I would have played for,” Hamels confirmed to WEEI’s Rob Bradford."

Players that are given limited no-trade clauses often list big market teams like the Red Sox. It’s not a sign that they wouldn’t want to play for that team, they just know those teams are the most likely to try to acquire them, so the ability to block the trade gives the player some leverage.

While Hamels was apparently willing to come to Boston, he admits that he never got the feeling that he two sides were anywhere close to a deal. The Hamels to Boston rumors had been running rampant since before last season, but the vibe Hamels was getting from the Phillies front office heading into spring training that year was that a trade with the Red Sox was unlikely.

"“I think the value that they put on me and the value they wanted in return I think were non-talking points for the Red Sox,” said Hamels. “Both sides didn’t have to change, and why would they.”"

The initial price that the Phillies were said to be asking for was absurd, with the names of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts linked to these trade rumors. Those players have since blossomed into superstars, showing that the Red Sox were wise to hang on to their top young players. No matter how great Hamels is, he’s not worth giving up either of those young, cost-controlled stars.

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But make no mistake, Hamels is a great pitcher. Any doubts of his ability to thrive in the American League have been put to rest, as the lefty enters the day with an 8-1 record and a 2.79 ERA that ranks 4th in the league.

Boston ended up passing on the opportunity to acquire Hamels and instead found their ace the following winter on the free agent market, shelling out $217 million for David Price. While a comparison of their career numbers favors Price, Hamels is far less expensive and having a far better season.

One year after failing to reel in Hamels, the Red Sox again approach the trade deadline seeking a starting pitcher. Even with Price anchoring the rotation, this team desperately needs an upgrade to their staff so that they will no longer be forced to shuffle through the dreadful options they have been attempting to use to fill the No. 5 spot. The problem is that this year’s trade market doesn’t include any pitchers the caliber of Hamels.

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Imagine if the Red Sox had acquired Hamels a year ago, then paired him with Price in the offseason. Add in current ERA leader Steven Wright and you suddenly have the makings of a very formidable rotation.

Boston was right to turn down any offer that would have required them to give up Betts or Bogaerts, but they have plenty of other assets to offer. The Phillies were reportedly interested in Blake Swihart, who could have headlined a package for Hamels. The Red Sox were reluctant to give up Swihart at the time, but in retrospect it seems like a great deal for Boston now that Swihart’s value is sinking.

You have to wonder, if Dave Dombrowski were running the Red Sox at the time, would he have found a way to trade for Hamels? He has a history of making bold decisions to acquire players he covets, which he showed by signing Price and trading for Craig Kimbrel last winter. Perhaps he would have been more willing to surrender Swihart and a few other prospects from the organization’s deep farm system.

According to Hamels, a trade to Boston was never really close to coming to fruition. It just wasn’t for the reason we thought it was. Cherington wasn’t willing to part with his prized prospects, that’s why a deal never gained any traction. Now here we are a year later and the Red Sox are still in need of another starter by the deadline.

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Will Dombrowski handle things differently? We’ll soon find out, but if he does manage to add a starter before the end of next month, it won’t be one as great as Hamels.