By Sam Bush
If you read the tea leaves and listen to what people are actually saying at the MLB winter meetings in San Diego, the Phils could be close to a deal with the Dodgers that would ship pitcher Cole Hamels and shortstop Jimmy Rollins west with a boatload of young talent coming to Philly.
Hamels can’t veto a trade to the Dodgers, but the Phillies would have to be “wowed” to move the three-time All-Star pitcher, Phils manager Ryne Sandberg said Tuesday.
“We’d have to be wowed to give up a player like Cole Hamels, which would be a wow that would help us with the process and go in the direction we want to go,” Sandberg said.
Hamels has a provision in his contract that would allow him to block deals to 20 of the 29 other teams. The Dodgers aren’t on that list, according to a person familiar with the details of Hamels’ contract.
Sandberg said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has spoken to Hamels about his situation.
“He’s also been told that he’s a Philadelphia Phillie,” Sandberg said. “If that would change, then he would be told that that was changed. But for the most part, he was on board with the scenario and the situation that he’s in.”
Now that Jon Lester has chosen the Chicago Cubs, other elite hurlers are on deck, and the Phillies might actually prove to be as close to an actual seller as there is, considering they lost 89 games last season with have an aging roster and plenty of bad contracts.
Hamels, whose nickname is “Hollywood,” has four years and $100 million left on his contract. The Dodgers also would like to add a veteran shortstop until Corey Seager is ready to play every day, and the Phillies have Jimmy Rollins, who will be making $11 million in the final year of his deal next season.
The Phillies and Dodgers could line up on a trade. The Phillies, of course, would be looking for good, cost-controllable, young players in return. Reports surfaced Tuesday that the Dodgers would be willing to trade second baseman Dee Gordon. One scout wondered whether a package of Gordon, top center-field prospect Joc Pederson and another young player might be a good start to open a discussion with Philly for the two veterans. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley could be in his final season next year.
One demand that likely would kill any talks with Philly is for Pederson, pitcher Julio Urias and Seager, the Dodgers’ three top prospects.
The Dodgers jealously guarded their three premium prospects at last season’s July trade deadline, but that was under Ned Colletti’s front-office regime. Under new president Andrew Friedman and new general manager Farhan Zaidi, prospects might not be so impossible to pry away from the Dodgers in the right deal. Zaidi said he has gotten inquiries about Pederson from other teams.
“I can’t speak to how willing they were at the trade deadline, but we would be willing to in the right deal, sure,” Zaidi said. “That’s the simple answer.”