Update (8/7/14 12:37 P.M): The mystery team is reportedly the Chicago Cubs, according to philadelphia sports radio host Mike Missanelli. Supposedly the Cubs are the lone team to make the claim on Hamels, and their move says a lot. Not only does it show that the team is ready to compete in the near future, but it also that they are willing to spend some money to put a good team out there. The two teams make sense as trade partners, and even if they do not make a deal at this time, they could still make a trade during the offseason. The Cubs have a plethora of prospects in their system, and definitely have the ammo to acquire a player of Hamels’ skill.
It will be interesting to see if the two teams actually get a deal done. The Cubs have 8 top 100 prospects (Kris Bryant-3, Javier Baez-5, Addison Russell-6, and Arismendy Alcantara-36, Albert Almora-40, Jorge Soler-53, C.J. Edwards-59, Kyle Schwarber-78) and it is figured that the Phillies will ask for at least 3 or 4 of those players. The Cubs also have other good prospects in their system, like Kyle Hendricks and Corey Black. Hamels is supposed to make $22.5 million a year for the next four years, with a $24 million vesting and $20 million team option for a 5th year. If the Phillies eat a small amount of that money, a deal might happen where they get the return they want; however, the Cubs might be better suited going after a free agent like James Shields or Max Scherzer. Scherzer will cost them more money and Shields is not as dominate as Hamels, but they both do not cost the Cubs any prospects. Even if the Cubs do not acquire Hamels, it is a smart financial move to claim him since it stops other rival teams from trading for him, at least until the offseason.
The Philadelphia Phillies, who did not trade anyone at the MLB trade deadline, have another opportunity to rebuild for the future. On August 4th, the Phillies placed Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz on waivers. They would be on the waiver wire until today, Wednesday August 6th. If any one of them are claimed, the Phillies have 48.5 hours to either trade the player to the claiming team, give him up for nothing, or pull him off of waivers. Today, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports Cole Hamels and Marlon Byrd have been claimed on revocable trade waivers by an unknown team (figured to be two different teams).
Cole Hamels is not a surprise, since he has been a dominat force on the mound this year. He is 6-6 with a 2.42 ERA, which is 4th best in the NL and 6th in the MLB. He has pitched only 137.1 innings due to an injury to start the season, but averages just under 7 innings a game. Over those innings he has struck out 139 batters, which calculates to a 9.1 SO/9 rate, his highest since 2010. He also is keeping the ball down posting a 46.9% ground ball rate, and his HR/9 rate is .50, his career best by a far margin. He has been scorching hot since his game on July 19th against the Atlanta Braves. Since that game he has pitched 30.0 innings, given up 2 earned runs, 2 walks, struck out 33 batters, and has a .067 ERA during that time. He also has a 18 innings scoreless streak going. Hamels is an ace on any club in the major leagues, and should receive a great return.
Hamels has a no-trade clause in his contract, so unless the team that claimed him was the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers or New York Yankees then he would have to veto his clause. Due to this and the fact that the Phillies would have more terrain to make a deal in the offseason, it is unlikely that they trade him unless they are blown away. The Chicago Cubs would be an interesting fit, as ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that the team could use Hamels as a building block for the future.
Marlon Byrd has also been claimed off waivers, tweets Ken Rosenthal. Although the return would not be at Cole Hamels-level, the Phillies still want a suitable return for him. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was supposedly asking for a return of a top organization prospect, but no teams would go that far due to Byrd’s age and contract. Byrd is making $8 million this year, another $8 million in 2015, and has an easily attainable vesting option of $8 million dollars in 2016. The fact that Byrd is 37 and has another possible two years for that money on his contract hurts. He’s had a terrific year, hitting Now that Amaro’s leverage is gone since the trade deadline is past, trade offers will be even lower.
Byrd is repeating his success from last year, hitting a slash line of .269/.318/.474 with 21 homers (3rd in NL and 3rd overall for MLB outfielders), 22 doubles, and 63 RBI (9th in NL and 10th overall for MLB outfielders). Defensively he has been solid in right field, posting a .996 fielding percentage with 252 putouts, 4 assists, and 1 error in 257 chances. If he can reproduce these numbers the next two years, then his contract is a steal; however, some teams would like some cash just in case he falters. Many teams could be the mystery team, since he can only block trades to the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.
No thoughts that the Pirates would be the mystery team? Byrd and Hamels fill big needs for them. I was amazed the two teams did not work a trade at the deadline.