Peter Gammons: If traded, will Hamels reap the desired return?


The Phillies don’t have to trade Cole Hamels, not the way the Dodgers felt they had to move Matt Kemp. It depends on the ownership situation, and if there is going to be a change in ownership, and it depends on exactly where the Phillies want to go.

Trading Hamels isn’t as simple as offering a guy with four years of control for three or four players. Whoever trades for him has to take on $100M, or at least $120M if you’re the Red Sox. While Pat Gillick has stated that it will be 2017 before they are contenders again, Ruben Amaro seems intent on something good for show-and-tell at midwinter banquets and the opening day of spring training.

Maybe Hamels-Wil Myers would be his kind of trade, although it seems odd that a 24-year old player has already been in three organizations before even thinking of getting a condo in Clearwater. And while the Pads have failed to draw 2M once since Petco opened, can they afford to take on $100M and trade Myers and possibly a young arm and make it all work in their five year prospective?

The Red Sox made it clear when they opened talks about Hamels that they will not deal Mookie Betts, who is clearly a regular and he who wills the vital role of leadoff hitter (check Bill James’ 2015 projection on Betts, over .400 OBP, 500 slug, just 22 years old); in 37 games, Betts’ WAR was 2.1, in 175 Myers’ was 0.9. They will also not trade catcher Blake Swihart. Now, Charlie Manuel saw more games in the Boston system than any other team and believes Garin Cecchini is a rising star and loves several others, but while Manuel is one of the best evaluators—particularly of hitters—in the game, his voice is not heard by Amaro. Nor is the voice of Pat Gillick, who would look at this list of the nine big trades for “ace” pitchers in the last seven years, thought out building to 2017 and gone immediately to outfielder Manuel Margot, third baseman Rafael Devers or shortstop Javier Guerra. Get one, the way the Cubs got Addison Russell, two pitchers in the Anthony Ranaudo generation and use the $100M to build internationally.

This is the history lesson in front of the Phillies:

Nine “Ace” Pitcher Trades Since 1978

Dec., 2009  Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia for Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor

July, 2009  Cliff Lee traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson, Jason Donald

Dec. 2008  Lee traded from Philadelphia to Seattle for Tyson Gillies, Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez

July, 2010  Lee traded from Seattle to Texas for Justin Smoak, Matt Lawson, Blake Beaven, Josh Lueke

Feb., 2002  Johan Santana traded from Minnesota to the Mets for Carlos Garcia, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra

July, 2008. CC Sabathia traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee for Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley

July 2010. Zack Greinke traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Jake Odorizzi

July 2012 Greinke traded by Milwaukee to the Angels for Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena

July, 2014  Jon Lester traded by Boston to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes

July, 2014  David Price traded by Tampa Bay to Detroit for Willy Adames, Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin

June, 2014 Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel traded by the Cubs to Oakland for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily


The Brewers were desperately trying to make the post-season for the first time since 1992, and LaPorta was the top ten list prospect. Yet in his fourth year with the Indians, Brantley became an all-star-level player.

The Twins got an all-star player in the deal for Johan Santana, who at the time was the best lefthander in the sport. Unfortunately, Carlos Gomez became an all-star with the Brewers after the Twins traded Gomez for J.J. Hardy, then released Hardy. Four years after trading Zack Greinke to the Brewers, Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi became quality major leaguers, Odorizzi for the Rays.

The Blue Jays got no use out of the deal for Roy Halladay. The only player of value in three Cliff Lee deals was Carlos Carrasco, who in the second half of his sixth season after the trade emerged as a major league starting pitcher.

The prospect pitchers in these deals won 48 games and lost 69 for the teams to whom they were traded. At 26 apiece, Odorizzi and Smyly well may slot into the Rays rotation next season behind Alex Cobb and Chris Archer.

Garza, incidentally, was considered a B list “ace” who has been traded three times. Archer in his fourth year with the Rays, may be a legit front-end starter and all-star. The Cubs traded him in 2013, have a prospect remaining in C.J. Edwards and two useful bullpen pieces, Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm. But the Cubs were smart; they went for upside in Edwards, not show-and-tell.

We don’t yet know what the A’s really got for Jeff Samardzija from the White Sox, and whether those promises match Russell and Billy McKinney.

The Phillies are on landfill with this Hamels deal. First, there aren’t many teams that can take on his contract. Oh, the Dodgers can, but they will not trade Julio Urias, Corey Seager or Joc Pederson. Period. Same way the Red Sox will not trade Betts or Swihart. Perhaps the Padres can take on the $100M and we know Hamels would love to go home, but are the Phillies so bent on showing off what’s under the Hamels Tree that they forget building for ’17 the way the Braves are clearly doing? If, as several GMs think, the Giants are going to trade prospects for Ben Zobrist, would they hold into what’s left and sign James Shields as a free agent? Brian Cashman has made one astute longterm deal after another, and isn’t going to trade Luis Severino and a position prospect to have three $20+M pitchers on his roster. Don’t expect the Cubs to have two $20+M pitchers in their thirties, especially when the second one also would cost prized prospects, who have tremendous value.

The Cubs and the Astros are Top Eight markets that knew what time it would take to get to the point of sustained contention, and haven’t lost sight. Perhaps the Phillies fear the rebuilding process, can’t wait for 2017, and while the Marlins and Mets begin their ascent towards the Nationals and the Braves are willing to build for the opening of their new park, the Phillies, if they will not seek ceiling in 19-to-22 year old prospects and be willing to wait for the timetables of a Brantley, Gomez, Archer or Russell, then they can hold onto one of the best pitchers in their history and hope for either 82 wins or a major breakdown in St. Louis, San Diego or Boston.


  1. Ryan Wedemeijer says:

    According to baseball reference, Hardy was not released, but traded to the orioles. I think Hamels should be traded, even is the prospects are in the lower minors (Trea Turner popped up in my mind, but he has already been traded this offseason). I don’t think it will happen this offseason though, probably at the deadline in case of a big injury.

  2. sunshipballoons says:

    Hope that ‘s true about the Giants and Zobrist.

    • phil mitchell says:

      Susac for Zobrist done deal!

      • sunshipballoons says:

        Did that happen, or are you saying you hope it happens?

        I really like Zobrist, but the Giants need a guy who can catch like 40 games. Who would they replace Susac with? And didn’t the Rays just trade for a starting catcher?

      • Kevin Kildow says:

        No…I hope they don’t trade Susac. He’s the future catcher when Posey inevitably moves to 1st/3rd in a couple years.

        • sunshipballoons says:

          I’m not against trading Susac, and I love Zobrist, but I’m not sure I think that’s the right move for the Giants. I think they need Susac this year, so if they’re going to move him, they need to either get back a backup catcher who can start 40 games, or get a true impact player. The latter won’t happen and I don’t think the Rays are trading Rivera, so I think the move would have to be something different.

    • Zobrist is 33 and on the downhill slope, but hes a big upgrade over the vacant lot we have in left. He’s played 2B-SS-RF so LF will not overwhelm him. He’ll take a walk, hits 35 doubles a year, he bats both ways. One year left on $7MM contract, at his age and situation we might get a Aubrey Huff-style “show me” season from him. I’m for it as long as we don’t deal Susac.

      • sunshipballoons says:

        It’s a little different from Huff, who had been awful the year before the Giants got him. Zobrist, in a “down” year last year was a 5-win player. Zobrist also played a little third earlier in his career and presumably could play there as well. I’d love to see him (on the Giants) and sharing time at 3B with McGee and LF with Blanco/Ish/Perez, plus sharing backup SS and 2B duties with Arias and/or Duffy. He could also fit anywhere in the batting order. It’s a really good fit. Of course, Zobrist is a really good fit almost anywhere.

        Speaking of Huff, the Rays traded Huff to the Astros for Zobrist back in the day.

    • Scott Smith says:

      Please get him out of Tampa-he’s a good player (Sox fan)

  3. Why didn’t you include the RA Dickey to Toronto trade in this list? His 3 years with the NYM were certainly ace-caliber – culminating in winning Cy Young…and it’s not hard to argue that d’Arnaud + Syndergaard (and more) has the potential to be key to transforming the Mets.

    • Exactly my thoughts when I looked this list over. Could there be any other trades that were overlooked?

      • Ryan Wedemeijer says:

        Samardzija to the white sox. I know it happened just weeks ago, but it surely counts.

        • Thanks! And twice traded as well. The Cubs got Addison Russell back last year in the first trade (multiple players on both sides). And now to the White Sox. And while he’s very good, I’m not sure he’s as dominant as the other pitchers mentioned above, or as Hamels either, but doesn’t that very fact improve the bargaining position for trading Hamels? (And I’m speaking here as a Mets fan, not a Phillies fan.)

          • Ryan Wedemeijer says:

            Well, there are a LOT of pitchers out there on the trade market (Zimmerman, Cueto), and don’t forget Scherzer and Shields are still available. Teams lookng to make a push this year will likely trade for a 1 year rental or signing a free agent. This prevents them from having to trade their entire farm system (Think Phillies…) So, as I said in my other comment, I don’t think Hamels will be traded this offseason, but probably mid-season.

          • All good and true points. Of course Scherzer and Shields will cost a lot of money plus a 1st round pick (for most teams likely in the market), and also the loss of the ability to use the money allocated to that draft pick slot. And if the 1 year rentals are any good, then the acquiring teams gives them a QO next year and at least gets a draft pick in return (except in the case of Cespedes). But yeah, unless a team believes that they are one ace away from a strong WS contender, it doesn’t make sense to wipe out your farm for one player, especially a pitcher (with their higher likelihood of injury).

  4. I want to know since when has Houston been considered a top market

    • Hudson Valley Slim says:

      “The Cubs and the Astros are Top Eight markets that knew what time it would take to get to the point of sustained contention, and haven’t lost sight.”

      Yeah, this line baffles me a bit. I had heard that the Astros turned the most profit in baseball a coupla years ago, with the smallest payroll and worst record. (Correct me if this memory is wrong.) But both the ‘Stros & Cubs haven’t proven anything until they get a coupla .500 seasons under their belt. A great farm system and prospects are just conjecture until they contribute to Major League success. So I think this is premature.

      • Bob Thacher says:

        A wonderful example of a rich man sinking the money into his bank account.They get a new ball park which is supposed to be the panecea for any team, and they get worse. Now, they should be working 24-7 to keep the marvelous Altuve.They did spend a bit this winter,so that is good.

      • Bob Thacher says:

        One must remember that Texas is football country. The Rangers got to the Series and lost. The team has gone down like a rock since.

    • Since 6,200,000 people moved there, I suppose. Only NY, LA, Chicago, and Dallas have larger population bases among MLB cities. Of course, I realize market size is not indicative of nor correlative to the franchise’s net worth or its willingness to spend money.

      • Bob Thacher says:

        There’s the rub. MLB is incredibly profitable. There are no small market teams. Put a winner on the field and they will come out. See KC as an example.

  5. I would be willing to give up Okert, Law, and Blach for Zobrist. May seem like a lot but we keep our top three pitcher prospects (Crick, Beede, Blackburn) and Susac intact.

    • Paul Michaels says:

      Pretty sure that Okert, Law, and Blach aren’t going to be enough for Zobrist. Blackburn might also have to be involved as well.

  6. Bob Thacher says:

    A team admitting they are building for 2017 is an insult to fans. It’s like saying, we are not in it for 15’and 16′. That is unacceptable. With free agency, a team can win any year. It’s a matter of how much of their own personal wealth they will spend. This article exposes how over rated prospects are. Look at all of those prospects that didn’t amount to a hill of beans.Spend the money on proven free agents and stop crying poor mouth.

    • Have you seen this teams GM? They will be LUCKY to compete in 2017. The truth is, Phils fans will be feeling Ruben’s damage for at least another 5 years…and the man still has a job. It’s remarkable.

      As for comments like that, Pat Gillick made the same declaration when he took over and the phils won a title 2 years later.

      • Bob Thacher says:

        The Ryan Howard contract in retrospect is awful,but at the time when he was hitting 50 plus homers,what would fans have said if he were to walk. In Boston, we see a star player walk to the Yankees or elsewhere just about every year. The worst trade he made IMO was Cliff Lee to the Mariners for nothing during a year they could have won it all.I like the way they got Lee when he could have gone to NY.

        • The man has literally missed on EVERY player personnel decision he has made for 5 years running. Every bench player proved to be worthless (from Wigginton to Nix to Thome). Every bullpen arm he brought in imploded (which often times people could see coming even before the signing was made, just ask Chad Qualls wife who questioned why he would play in a park where he had a 12 era…that number didn’t come down much). Every re-upped contract he gave out was a year too long and gave the player way too much power (I can blame others in the org too, but he still did the deals). And every guy he signed or traded for was either mediocre given the contract handed out (Marlon Byrd) or just brutal (Burnett, Michael Young, Delmon Young, and the list is endless).

          Mix in the Lee trade and also the Pence trade with Houston which may go down as the worst trade in the last 25 years and the full picture of a clueless GM emerges.

          That original Lee deal was his first and last smart decision and with Carlos Carrasco turning into a solid pitcher, even that one doesn’t look as good anymore.

          • Bob Thacher says:

            Agree the Pence trade was horrible. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to keep a player. These moves don’t always work out. The last thing you want is an ownership or GM who won’t spend. All of these so called small market teams are full of it. They take their profit sharing and put it in their pockets. The teams continue to lose and cry poor mouth.

          • Bob Thacher says:

            Let’s not forget the Ben Revere trade. That was a steal for Ruben and a really dumb move by the Twins.

          • What did he steal exactly? A middle school arm and an unbelievably poor route runner on defense. A no power slap hitter who will not walk (which makes his 82nd rank obp actually even more impressive) and when he’s hot, can make a difference, but isn’t hot/healthy enough to justify as many at bats as he does at the top. While he struggled when facing the AL’s best, part 2 of that deal, Trevor May has indeed made the big league club. Worley fizzled but was traded off of a good year and he had a great year with the buccos this year, so it wasn’t nothing. What made it worse was that the Nats traded close to the same value just a few days earlier for Denard Span. A day late and a dollar short (or in Ruben’s case, about 100 million dollars too much given to the wrong guys).

          • Bob Thacher says:

            Revere is a good enough hitter to not draw walks. The saying,a walk is as good as a hit works both ways. A hit is as good as a walk. As for his defense, I can’t speak for that, but the man can hit.

          • A good enough hitter?! He is a career .290 hitter. For a leadoff guy who can’t draw walks that is unacceptable. Then you add in the minuscule power and the fact that he collects more at bats than anyone and you start to wonder if he’s hurting more than helping,

          • Bob Thacher says:

            Would you rather not have him? For the price, who would you rather have?

          • Denard Span. The guy a smart GM swooped in and took just days before Ruben brought in the 8th grade arm.

          • Bob Thacher says:

            As for the declaration that the Phillies are building for 2017, I suggest they drop all ticket prices during that time.

          • Bob Thacher says:

            I recall Thome being quite a pickup when they moved in to the new Stadium. Nothing wrong with that move.

          • To be honest, even that can be debated since they had a 24-year-old Ryan Howard taring up the minors and the Thome move kept him down there, but they were building a new stadium and needed to show a commitment to winning, which I have no problem with. However, that wasn’t Ruben. Dopey Ruben brought a 39-year old Jim Thome back to the Phils as a bench player when it was clear he was nothing more than a DH. They finally traded him to Baltimore for peanuts during the season.

  7. I think the Sox should keep Swihart, but if including Betts in a package to get Hamels will do the deal, I think they should do it ASAP. The average career WHIP for the five current proposed Boston starters is north of 1.35. Hamels? 1.14. If they don’t get a pitcher in the rotation able to keep runners off the bases, it’s going to be a long year.

    • So you would give up a versatile on base machine who would be the team’s leadoff man for at least the better part of a decade (plus brings an awesome name to the table, can’t overlook that) for the right to pick up a long-term FA style contract for a SP who is an unknown in the AL? ASAP? Yikes!

      FYI, players who are cheap and/or bring team control are the most valuable commodities in baseball, especially when they have a very reliable floor. I wouldn’t trade Betts for Hamels straight up, and a one for one wouldn’t do it on Philly’s end.

      Also, why would you rush to trade away a player who is already set to be an everyday starter? Create a hole to fill a hole, while adding payroll? Not the best way to build a team.

      • Because I am not 100-percent convinced Betts is going to be what he is advertised to be. If he’d had a full year under his belt I might be more convinced. Also, I think it is much more difficult to find/acquire quality starting pitching than it is an outfielder.

        I’ll grant you Betts has the makings of a solid player (and he does have a great name), but I think it’s worth the risk to solidify the rotation.

    • Christopher Dorney says:

      No way – Betts is the more likely success, based on his actual MLB performance. For the $ you pay Betts versus his likely WAR/value, relative to Hamels, the Sox would be likley to regret that deal. If anything I would deal Swihart, but I wouldnt even do that. Frankly I’d prefer to roll the dice with what they have, keeping an eye out for other opportunities before the deadline (things change) – including how some of our prospects are doing at AAA.

  8. Terry Janiak says:

    Henry Owens, Manuel Margot, and Anthony Ranaudo for Cole Hamels.

    • That would be a terrific haul for the Phillies, and is much more realistic than offers that include Betts or Bogaerts. But still too much in my book if it involves picking up Hamels’s option (downgrade Owens to a lower level but still quality SP prospect in that case and that would be good looking on both ends, methinks).

    • Christopher Dorney says:

      I agree – this is closer to the kind of deal that may work for both sides. I’m not sure the Phils would like it. I would do it in a hearbeat, even as a Sox fan that tends to overvalue prospects. Not because i don’t like Owens and Margot (I do – a lot), but it’s not at all likely Owens will ever be as good as Hamels. We can hope, but not likely.

      • John Smith says:

        Why in God’s name would the Red Sox do that? Hamels is far from certain to upgrade the current rotation enough to justify his salary, let alone real prospects. The organization is better with Owens, Margot and Ranaudo in it and $20M more per year in payroll flexibility than without those three guys but with Hamels. You don’t have to be a slavish prospect-lover to think that to be a pretty bad deal given the whole organization.

        • Christopher Dorney says:

          I don’t have an issues with Hamel’s salary, given it’s below market for a pitcher with his numbers/age. provided we aren’t giving up too much in prospects. The market this year isn’t great, though as I said previously it may get better at the deadline. I’m fine waiting, but if the Phils would do the trade above, I would take the deal, as it does in my opinion make us extremely well rounded now without mortgaging the future. But it doesn’t matter – the Phils undoubtedly wouldnt do this deal, based on the rumors of the types of returns they expect. So don’t worry 🙂

        • Bob Thacher says:

          At this point, they will not make the playoffs ,with or without Hamels. If they would sign Scherzer, they would keep the prospects.

      • Bob Thacher says:

        Over value prospects? The Sox worry way to much about draft picks,etc.

    • Bob Thacher says:

      I would probably make that deal,but have a feeling Owens will be a good one.

    • Bob Thacher says:

      The only one you might regret later is Owens. Otherwise,it’s a steal for the Sox.

  9. Only a fool would trade Betts, and Cherington is no fool. I would offer Ranaudo and Cecchini for Hamels. Two players with terrific upside for a very expensive pitcher. No Swihart or Owens.

    • Christopher Dorney says:

      While I agree trading Betts is a bad move, there is no way you’ll get anywhere with a Renaudo/Cecchini deal. Let’s be practical – while I think the Sox should not deal Betts/Swihart/Bogaerts, I could see a package with players like Marrero, Margot and Owens/E. Rodriguez involved. Not sure they would do it, but it has to be more than what you are proposing.

      • Hi Chris, if you are going to trade excellent prospects like Owens or Rodrgues, you might as well go after Scherzer. The money is similar and he is much better than Hamels.

        • Christopher Dorney says:

          Hey Bill, I’m actually not advocating for either very strongly. I think Scherzer is better too (especially when you look at Hamels #s vs AL, though that sample size isn’t large enough to be certain), but I think Scherzer’s price tag is going to be insane (> Lester). If the Sox wouldnt go to Lester’s # (which I agreed with), I don’t think they’ll want Scherzer either, though bidding him up to make the Yankees pay more sounds good to me! It’s Hamel’s salary that makes me moderately more interested in him, as long as the prospects aren’t major ones (or Phil eats part of the salary). In any case, I’m not totally thrilled about hitting 2015 with the rotation we have, but I’d prefer that to any big overpay, be it salary or prospects.

        • Joseph Burbidge says:

          with all due respect , how much have you watched hamels and scherzer – hamels, without going into it, is by far , the better pitcher and will continue to be .this is not qa homer opinion – it is objective . and plz state your opinions as opinions -not fact

  10. “…(check Bill James’ 2015 projection on Betts, over .400 OBP, 500 slug, just 22 years old)” Seriously? Bill James has either turned into the biggest homer in MLB, or has sold his soul to John Henry. Just look at last year’s “projection” on Wil Middlebrooks if you doubt me. There was a time Bill James’ projections were rooted in fact and tools…obviously no more. James is calling for 50 points more in OBP and 75 more points in slg than is Steamer…HOMER!

    • Scott Smith says:

      Uh yeah, he’s on boston’s payroll, Why would he say bad things about players that might get traded?

      • John Smith says:

        Because he is very much an outsider even though he’s on the payroll. His role there is as an advisor; he is still “Bill James” the analyst and writer even though the Sox pay him to do certain analyses. His rationale for thinking Middlebrooks would have a good year was actually based on sound analysis; the fact that he got hurt and didn’t come around doesn’t disprove the approach or the projection. It’s called a “projection” (and not an absolutely-will-happen) for a reason.

    • Joseph Burbidge says:

      i am so sick of hearing about st bill , he couldnt recognize a good swing even from ted williams or edgar martinez . he knows stats and they are part of the story – not the whole

  11. Oran Kelley says:

    So, a Bosox exec really wants to get the Phillies’ price down and gives Gammons some “facts” that cast the Phillies demands in a bad light which Gammons then publishes. Unattributed. How are we to think of Peter Gammons as anything but a compliant whore?