Trade Hamels? Not unless the deal is dynamic for Philly

Rob Neyer

Rob Neyer

So the headline on this column is "Trading Hamels could make sense."


Well, yes that'€™s definitely true. In the sense that just about anything could make sense. But is trading Hamels likely to make sense? Not likely.

According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies "€œwant the world" in return for Hamels. Well, they should want the world because Hamels is one of the very best, most durable starting pitchers in the game, and he'€™s reasonably priced for some years to come.

About that first part ... As you know, Wins Above Replacement is useful because, among other reasons, it measures both quality and quantity. From 2010 through Tuesday night, Hamels ranks 10th in the majors in fWAR. Actually, he just passed CC Sabathia and grabbed 10th on the list Tuesday night. Sabathia'€™s on the shelf, while Hamels just keeps rolling along.*

(* - and by the way, Baseball-Reference.com thinks even more highly of Hamels, ranking him fifth in rWAR since 2010.)

About that second part ... If you'€™re the Phillies, you trade high-priced (or for that matter, low-priced) players who won'€™t be around when you'€™re ready to win again. That'€™s why you trade Cliff Lee and, of course, you trade Ryan Howard just because. You trade Cliff Lee because he'€™s locked up through just 2015 (with a team option for 2016), and you trade Ryan Howard because he's probably never going to do much in terms of actually winning baseball games.

Cole Hamels, though? Cole Hamels is locked up through 2019. That'€™s one-two-three-four-five seasons after this one. And considering the Phillies'€™ current financial edge over much of their competition -- thank you massive television moneys! -- if they'€™re not competitive again at some point in the next two or three years, then someone in the front office is probably doing a lousy job.

Now, will Hamels continue to pitch so well? Of course these things are far from guaranteed. We'€™ve seen a tremendous individual example in Sabathia, and the macro analysis tells us exactly the same thing: Today'€™s ace quite possibly won'€™t be tomorrow'€™s.

Still, you gotta start somewhere. We know you can'€™t count on veteran pitchers, no matter how good they are. But we also know you can'€™t count on stockpiling a bunch of high-quality phenoms, either. So what does that leave? Well, it leaves rolling the dice. But if you're going to roll the dice, you might as well use the loaded bones. 

Could a trade make sense? Sure. If you'€™re the Phillies, you ask for the earth and the moon and the sun and the stars. And maybe you can do without the moon.

Otherwise, though, Cole Hamels is the one guy you keep if you'€™re serious about winning again in this decade.


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