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Phillies Trade Notes: Hamels and Byrd

Could Cole  Hamels be shipping up to Boston?

Could Cole Hamels be shipping up to Boston?

Put this into the “where there is smoke, there is fire” category of sports. The Phillies continue to say that they are not trading starter Cole Hamels, but the Phillies scouts picked an interesting game to attend Thursday night. Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies sent scouts to the  Boston Red Sox AA (Portland Sea Dogs) game Thursday night after the Red Sox inquired about Cole Hamels. Maybe its all a coincidence? Maybe the Phillies scouts just happened to be in the area? Well that would be one hell of a coincidence considering who was pitching for Portland.

Pitching for the Sea Dogs Thursday night was the Red Sox number one prospect Henry Owens. The 22-year old California native was the starting pitcher for Team USA in the 2014 MLB Futures Game this year. Owens didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday surrendering five earned runs, on five hits, in just four innings of work. The big lanky lefty did manage to fan six batters though. Owens has a 13-4 record for Portland this season with an impressive 2.56 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .197 off of him this year, and he is striking out over a batter an inning (123 K in 116 IP).

The only other player for Portland Thursday night, who is also a top 10 prospect for the Red Sox, was catcher/DH Blake Swihart. The switch hitter, and former first round pick in 2011, went 2-4 at the plate while scoring the Sea Dogs only run. Swihart posses a slash line of .298/.353/.489 in his first season at AA. The 22 year old has 11 home runs with 53 runs batted in. With Tommy Joseph‘s catching career in question Swihart would be a nice piece to have.

While the Phillies have said that they are not going to trade their 30 year old ace, you have to assume that there is something to these rumors. The Red Sox current ace Jon Lester has tabled contract talks to the offseason after both sides were unable to come to an extension. The Red Sox could fear that Lester wont be back, and look to add Hamels as a comparable replacement. If Thursday night was Cole Hamels last start in Philadelphia he certainly went out strong. The lefty went eight innings, giving up just one earned run while striking out 10. He even managed to ramp up his fast ball to 96 MPH.

While any trade for Cole Hamels would be sure to yield a great return for the Phillies, a trade for outfielder Marlon Byrd probably would not. On Thursday the Seattle Mariners, who were said to be interested in Byrd, decided to bring back Kendrys Morales. Morales, who has a little over two months left on his contract, brought the Twins back a 25-year old AAA relief pitcher named Stephen Pryor. Pryor was not in MLB.Com’s top 25 prospects for the Seattle Mariners, and he likely wont be in the Twins top 25 next season. The right handed reliever posted a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings of work.

Marlon Byrd is obviously having a stronger season than Kendrys Morales, but Morales is five years younger than Byrd, and isn’t signed for next season. Byrd also has a…. wait for it….. vesting option for 2016 when he will be 38-years old. If the Phillies end up finding a buyer for Marlon Byrd then you are probably looking at a Jeremy Horst type player in return.

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