Cole Hamels is wasting away in Philadelphia. Just as importantly, the Philadelphia Phillies may be wasting away their opportunity to sell high on the former World Series MVP.

Much has been made about how long Philly has waited to trade Hamels and what its price for the ace may be. The price the Phillies ask for and the payment they receive, however, could vary drastically or not much at all.

The Phillies have major factors working in their favor and major factors working against them in trade scenarios. Which of those factors carries the most weight depends on the team involved and is honestly anybody’s guess.

Here’s a breakdown of the biggest factors in Hamels trade scenarios and the two best fits for a blockbuster Hamels deal.


Factors working for the Phillies


The first thing working in Philadelphia’s favor is that, with the extra playoff spot in each league, 22 out of 29 teams (excluding the Phillies, obviously) are within 5.5 games of a wild-card spot. That’s three-fourths of the league.

The plethora of playoff contenders means more teams potentially willing to mortgage the future to win now.

There are even teams several games under .500 that are within striking distance of a playoff berth. This is the kind of trade environment Philadelphia had to be hoping for when it neglected to trade its ace in the offseason.


The Dodgers

The Yankees of the west have been tied to Hamels for a while now. With more money to throw at anything they want and seemingly more middle infielders than roster spots, the Dodgers could potentially add multiple starters.

As Scott Gelman of the SB Nation blog, MLB Daily Dish, wrote, the Dodgers are interested in acquiring a pair of middle-of-the-rotation starters. While two aces seems an unlikely route, the Dodgers’ overabundance of infielders has shown that they couldn’t care less about overfilling the cookie jar at a specific position.

They certainly have the financial muscle and prospects to entertain landing at least one ace and could go after more.

Plus, a starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hamels, Johnny Cueto and anyone else in the fifth spot just wouldn’t be fair. You could go ahead and pencil them in as world champs.

At the very least, the Phillies could use the Dodgers to help drive up the price on Hamels. The Dodgers could realistically be a factor in just about every trade scenario out there, so many teams may name-drop L.A. in trade talks to help boost the price.


Hamels’ contract

Team control is probably the largest overlooked factor when discussing trade scenarios. Compare the statistics of Reds front-line starter Cueto with those of Hamels.

Cole Hamels 113.1 93 38 35 119 12 5 3.02 1.13
Johnny Cueto 104.2 76 33 20 100 10 5 2.84 0.92

Cueto has a better ERA and WHIP, but Hamels has something that just doesn’t show up in box scores: a contract running through at least 2018.

Cueto will be a free agent after this season, making him quite possibly just a two- to three-month rental. Hamels, on the other hand, offers flexibility. 

He’s under contract through 2018 with a team option for 2019. Meaning, if a team going for it decides next season that they’re sellers, they can ship Hamels off to help recoup some of their loss from acquiring him this season.


Factors working against the Phillies

Hamels’ contract

How can his contract be both a good things and a bad thing? Well, as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd would say, “Money, money, money, money. Money!”

All that team control is wonderful, if you can afford it. Most teams can’t blow their noses with cash like the Dodgers, meaning the financial burden of $23.5 million a season is like an elephant sitting on the garden hose while you’re trying to wash your car.

Trading away multiple cost-efficient young players for one contract can be a risky proposition. Money aside, young talent is hard to come by despite the huge number of young prospects making an impact this year.

According to Spotrac, only nine players are making more money than Hamels this year. That’s a tough pill to swallow for almost any team.

Although there is this little tidbit:


Hamels’ workload and age

The longer the Phillies wait, the older Hamels becomes. He’s already on the wrong side of 30, and all those playoff runs the Phillies made during his prime years have put some serious innings on that golden left arm.

Hamels has pitched at least 204.2 innings in seven consecutive seasons. 

As we’ve seen with two of the other Phillies’ “four aces,” Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the downward slope of heavy usage comes fast, and it comes hard. With the rash of injuries to starting pitchers these last few years, older starters may go the way of NFL running backs in recent years, where quantity and youth trumps quality and experience.


Other pitchers available and free agency

Hamels may be the biggest fish in the pond, but he’s not the only trophy swimming in the depths. Jeff Samardzija and Cueto are two other big names waiting to be reeled in, and they will likely require less bait.

Take the appropriately nicknamed Shark for example. This season has not gone how the White Sox expected, and there’s little chance Samardzija re-signs with the middle-of-the-road-spending South Siders.

The Phillies have held onto Hamels this long in hopes of finding the best deal. Pitchers like Shark and Cueto are almost certainly going to cost less, although they are likely only months-long rentals.

But that’s the way of the MLB trade-deadline world. You take a perceived risk and go for it. Plus, who’s to say that offering up more young prospects for an aging left arm is riskier than parting ways with fewer prospects for a short-term lottery ticket on that same arm?


Teams with the best chance to land Hamels

So, all of those factors mean what exactly? Which teams would benefit most and have less to lose in a potential Hamels deal? Many teams have been linked with Hamels, but few have the talent and/or payroll flexibility to land him.


Los Angeles Dodgers

Proposed deal

Dodgers receive: Cole Hamels

Phillies receive: Alex Guerrero and Zach Lee

The top option for a trade has to be the Dodgers. They have the most money, they have questions about the back end of their rotation and they have a bevy of prospects and excess middle infielders.

And Hamels is a Southern California native (born in San Diego). Although Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia reports that Hamels would consider waiving his no-trade clause for any destination, he’d likely be more amiable toward a move back home to a title contender.

There’s also been sports-radio-worthy speculation about a Yasiel Puig-for-Hamels swap and that L.A. could potentially be looking to part ways with its super-talented-headache of a right fielder. Don’t count on that one coming to fruition.


Chicago Cubs

Proposed deal

Cubs receive: Cole Hamels

Phillies receive: Javier Baez and Junior Lake

The Cubs get their legitimate ace, and the Phillies acquire a boom-or-bust middle infield prospect with name recognition and a super utility player.

Although the Cubs’ recent offensive struggles have been a problem, they are, at least according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, looking for starting pitching help.

Jon Lester hasn’t quite been the ace Chicago was looking for this year, and behind him is a stable of mediocre-to-good rotation options. A Hamels deal would make sense because it would give the Cubs two potential aces and because his long-term team control would fit nicely with the Cubs’ perceived playoff window.

As seen in the tweet above, CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan has reported that the Cubbies would be willing to add to their payroll should Theo Epstein be able to acquire talent. And the Cubs, despite the recent call-ups of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and others, still have a farm system chock-full of studs.

Another potential tie-in: The Cubs were linked to Hamels last year, and even claimed him on waivers after the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Carrie Muskat of The Cubs and Phillies obviously never consummated a deal, but Chicago may be more willing to part ways with top talent now that its window is seemingly open.


Stats and info courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

Follow Aaron Brand on Twitter @AaronBrand47

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