Jimmy Rollins, the Dodgers’ first hitter and longtime teammate of Hamels’, drops a bunt down the third base line to Will Middlebrooks, who fires across the diamond to Ryan Howard, nipping Rollins by an eyelash. Howard tosses the ball to Chase Utley, who flips it to Alexi Amarista, who tosses it over to Middlebrooks, who fires it back to Hamels. All right, one down. Who’s up next?
We’re one trade from having that be a reality on Opening Day. One spectacular blockbuster trade. It’s not inconceivable. If you read Billy Brost’s piece on Friday, you know what Philadelphia is looking for in a trade for Hamels.
The Phillies are desperate to move Howard and his huge salary. They’re looking for the right return for their ace Hamels. And the 36-year old Utley might just waive his 10-and-5 rights for another chance to win the World Series. He’s unlikely to get that chance in Philadelphia.
What would we give up to get Hamels, Howard, and Utley?
A trade like that would give the Phillies a budding staff ace in Ross, a power-hitting prospect who’s almost major-league ready to replace the departed Marlon Byrd, a serviceable, much, much cheaper replacement for Howard, a young, long-term team-controlled replacement for Utley, and a left-handed power/speed-lite veteran outfielder who might respond quite nicely to a smaller ballpark. Oh, and the best catching prospect in baseball, with Chooch Ruiz celebrating his 36th birthday next week. They’d get a decade younger at several positions, and they’d shed over 50 million from their payroll.
Is it a good trade for the Padres? It’s an expensive one, that’s for sure. That 50 million-plus savings for the Phillies would come directly out of the San Diego coffers. They’d be paying $60 million over the next two years for Howard, who is several years past his prime. Utley would likely be no more than a one-year rental. Their payroll would jump by more than $60 million from the highest payroll in team history in 2014, up into the $150 million range.
But they’d get Hamels for the next four years. They’d get one of the best second baseman in baseball over the last decade. They’d get a Ryan Howard who still put up 23 homers and 95 RBI last year. And they’d have a lineup that could do damage from top to bottom.
There would be only one reason to make this trade. And that’s to win the World Series in 2015. Look at this lineup:
That’s seven guys with 20 home run, 90-RBI potential. All-Stars at five positions. Potential All-Stars at two others. And the Little Ninja.
- Brandon Morrow
Obviously, the Padres are not looking to trade Tyson Ross. But if that were the piece that made the Phillies pull the trigger on the deal, would it be worth it?
It would likely have to pay off immediately. Why? Upton, Utley, Ian Kennedy, and Andrew Cashner will be free agents at the end of the year. Those would be some big pieces to lose in 2016. But wait? Who would be back? Who would potentially represent the Padres in the 2016 All-Star game in San Diego? Hamels. Kemp. Maybe Howard has another All-Star season in him. And what about Myers, who’d be in his age-26 year? Think he might be good?
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Cory Spangenberg could replace Utley. There are some talented names listed in that number 5 spot in the rotation to replace Cash and Kennedy. And a little fella named A.J. Preller will still be in charge of the team.
There would still be questions this year. Would the Padres rotation be good enough to make it all the way through the postseason? I’m not sure. But we have the same question with our current rotation. I’d take Hamels with his 7-4 record and 13 postseason starts over Ross with no postseason starts.
Is Hamels at $22 million a year a better deal than Ross for somewhere in the $5-10 million range (5 million this year, then arbitration eligible next year)? Maybe not. But based on his nine years of success against Ross’ one year, I like the odds that Hamels will be the better pitcher over that time. Add in the fact that Hamels has put up his very solid numbers pitching in a bandbox, and I think he’s a potential Cy Young winner at Petco Park.
Does Howard’s contract put the payroll at a level higher than the Padres’ ownership is ready to take on? Very possibly. It would put the Padres in the top 10 in spending this year, maybe in the top 7.
This is a high cost, certainly. An extra 50 million dollars, two prime prospects, and our best pitcher last year, basically for a one-year shot at the series.
But if it worked, if the Padres won the World Series in 2015, it would all be worth it. Don’t you agree? Or would you rather continue to see the Padres listed among those eight teams who have never won the Series?