With Spring Training a week a away, the rumors of an Andrew Cashner-for-Cole Hamels deal just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Even after the free agent signing of James Shields to a four-year, $75 million dollar contract, rumors still swirl about a possible trade.
The San Diego Padres made an aggressive offer to Philadelphia Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He indicates that the offer to the Phillies was before Shields signed his contract. No specifics of the trade were leaked, but obviously Amaro rejected A.J. Preller’s latest offer.
Multiple reports suggested the Padres were trying to acquire both Hamels and Shields before ultimately just signing Shields. Does that mean the Padres are still infatuated with Hamels? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but can we get a deal done?
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I believe Preller realizes the effect a pitcher of Cole Hamels’ ilk can have on a already formidable staff. The Padres staff is all right-handed, assuming Robbie Erlin does not crack the rotation. A lefty on top of the rotation to pitch in between Shields and Tyson Ross would be exceptional.
Andrew Cashner is probably the obvious choice to be packaged in a potential deal for Hamels. Cashner has never really been able to stay healthy and his value will never be any higher. Andrew Cashner is no spring chicken, off the top of your head you would think he is in his early 20’s, but in all reality he will be 29 during this season. Will he ever live up to his unfilled potential?
Looking at the dynamics of this possible deal, you will see that the Padres do indeed have the right prospects to get a deal done. Austin Hedges is the catcher of the future the Phillies long for. Matt Wisler can be the replacement they need in the absence of Cole Hamels. The Padres also have Hunter Renfro, but I believe A.J. Preller is not including him in on trade talks. Perhaps his lack of inclusion in a deal, is what is holding things up?
Renfroe should be held onto, as the Padres will most surely only have the services of Justin Upton for this season. The bottom line is the Padres have decent prospects like Robbie Erlin, Taylor Lindsey, Rymer Liriano, and Casey Kelly. The Philadelphia Phillies are the ones holding on to Cole Hamels and asking the absolute house in return.
In Philadelphia, the fans are getting restless calling for Amaro’s head. They feel he waited too long to move such pieces as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels. The team is in rebuilding mode, but yet Utley, Howard, Hamels and even Cliff Lee remain. The fans want the youth movement to start already, and Amaro has failed to provide the key exciting prospects they long for.
The Cashner and prospects deal for Cole Hamels should still be very much alive. His appearance at the top of the San Diego Padres’ rotation, would instantly vault them into conversations for the best pitching staff in Major League Baseball.
When you rebuild your team by adding the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and James Shields, your goal is not only a playoff appearance, but to win it all! They are in a win-now mindset, and with the likes of the Washington Nationals’ rotation, the Friars need all the big game pitchers they can handle. Not to mention the Los Angeles Dodgers in their own division.
Unlike James Shields’ previous success in the playoffs, Hamels is an absolute beast when it comes to games in October. Besides having a World Series MVP to his name, Hamels has a career ERA (in postseason) of 3.09 and is 7-4. He won four games alone in the 2008 post season while leading the Phillies to a World Series victory over James Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays.
If you are worried that the Padres can’t afford Hamels, then you are way off base. The payroll presently sits at around $100 million, with a “soft” cap of $105 million. That $100 million present payroll consists of Carlos Quentin‘s $8 million dollar salary. He most surely is going to be moved, if he can prove his gimpy knees are doing better. That alone saves the Padres $8 million, and if you include either Cameron Maybin ($7 million) or Will Venable‘s ($4.25 million) contract for this year, the possibility of still being under budget remains.
A.J. Prellers next trick will be to make the extra outfielders and make their contracts disappear. I wish him the best of luck. I can see moving Venable and Quentin, but Maybin and his $24 million for the next three years, is going to be nearly impossible. I am sure he is working the phones right now as you read this.
The payroll for the 2016 and 2017 season is at between $50-$60 million before arbitration-eligible players are awarded. That leaves plenty of flexibility if you were to add a pitcher like Cole Hamels. Only Matt Kemp ($21.75 million) and James Shields ($21 million) are invested upon long term and at a hefty price tag for the next few seasons. If A.J. wants Hamels, the Padres can easily afford him.
The real question is, what exactly will it take to wrestle him away from the Phillies? Amaro has made it publicly known that he “covets” Cashner and the Phillies are also open about the fact that they covet a young catcher. So Hedges and Cashner would make sense in a deal for the Phillies, but what else would it take?
If the Phillies are holding out for Wil Myers, then they might as well stop kidding themselves. With the price tag the Padres paid for Myers’ services (Trea Turner, Rene Rivera and Joe Ross) plus the fact he is under team control till 2020, makes Wil Myers clearly untouchable. Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro has to realize that.
The Padres are not desperate to make a move, the rotation is fine as it presently sits. The Phillies on the other hand, have to be feeling the pressure to do something. Hamels and Cliff Lee are going to be moved, and Ryan Howard also if they can find a buyer. The best time to get top dollar for talent is before the season starts or at the July 31st trade deadline.
If nothing happens on the Hamels to the Padres front before April 4th, then I believe the Phillies will stand pat until they are officially out of it or the July 31st deadline. Whichever comes first. The time is now to win, so A.J. Preller must do whatever he has to, to improve the Padres. There really has not been a better time to be a San Diego Padres fan.
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