Trade Rumors

Nationals reportedly in talks for Cole Hamels; Phillies, Braves have scout at Monday start



Cole Hamels reportedly is drawing serious interest from at least one National League East team. (Arturo Pardavila III/Wikimedia Commons)

While one Philadelphia Phillies icon – Chase Utley – may be starting at Citizens Bank Park for the last time Monday evening, another one is making a rather important start across the country. Cole Hamels will get the ball for the Texas Rangers Monday evening in a start that could have implications on the National League East race.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Washington Nationals, who entered the day six games behind the Phillies in the National League East, are in trade talks with the Rangers for the 34-year-old lefty:

Although negotiations are at a preliminary stage and obstacles remain, the Nationals and Rangers have had trade discussions involving four-time All-Star Cole Hamels, sources told MLB.com Monday.

On top of that, Morosi added that the Atlanta Braves – who are just one game back of the Phillies in the National League East at the time of this article’s publication – are also scouting Hamels this evening. However, so too are the Phillies, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

There are other pieces on the Rangers roster that the Phillies have been connected to, such as third baseman Adrian Beltre or former Phillies reliever Jake Diekman, who was dealt with Hamels to Texas in July of 2015. But there’s no indication that Beltre is going to waive his no-trade clause, and it would seem to be quite the coincidence for the Phillies to have a scout in Texas tonight if they weren’t at least keeping the door open for a potential reunion.

As Morosi noted in April, Hamels doesn’t have any of the Phillies, Braves or Nationals blocked as part of his partial no-trade clause. That would obviously make facilitating a trade easier for any of the three.

Hamels entered the evening with a 5-8 record, a 1.73 HR/9, a 4.36 ERA and a 5.06 FIP. That FIP, according to FanGraphs, is the seventh worst among all starters in baseball. The former first-round pick has also hit 11 batters already this season, which is tied for his career-high, which he set a season ago.

In a weak starting pitching market, though, Hamels appears to have become a valued commodity. Although Citizens Bank Park isn’t exactly an ideal place to pitch, Hamels is likely eager to no longer make his home starts at Globe Life Park, where he has a 5.83 ERA in nine starts. In 10 starts away from Arlington, Hamels has a 2.93 ERA. That’s not to say that his home starts should be altogether excluded, but those splits are pretty drastic.

As Zolecki noted, Matt Klentak did say before the second-half of the season began that the Phillies were hoping to stay out of the starting pitching market. However, both Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin have put together less-than-stellar first starts after the All-Star Break. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies don’t become more interested in adding a starting pitcher – Hamels or otherwise – in the coming days.

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