The Red Sox need to work on a rotation whose most reliable current member is Joe Kelly. The Phillies need prospects to help them kick off the rebuild they finally admitted their floundering organization requires. It makes sense, then, that the Red Sox and Phillies would have a conversation or two about Philly's ace, Cole Hamels, who has four years and at least $96 million still coming to him on his current contract. While there is no indication that the two sides are discussing a deal, the Phillies are doing background work on a number of Red Sox prospects, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Those prospects include catcher Christian Vazquez, right-handed starter Matt Barnes, and one of the top youths in Boston's entire organization, outfielder Mookie Betts. Rosenthal says the Red Sox aren't looking to deal either Vazquez or the top prospect in their system, fellow backstop Blake Swihart, but obviously the chance to get Cole Hamels could change their mind on Vazquez. Barnes, too, is an expendable piece if the Phillies are willing to part with Hamels. Betts is another story, if only because of his potential in the future, what he could mean to the 2015 team, and the fact that as of right now, the Sox still have the option to spend money on a starter like Jon Lester, James Shields, or Max Scherzer rather than acquire Hamels in a trade that will also cost them prospects. Chances are good that if there is a way to make this work without giving up Betts, the Sox will listen, but it's hard to see it happening otherwise.
Another complication is that the Red Sox are on Hamels' no-trade list. While this doesn't end the possibility of him coming to Boston, it does mean he can leverage his position to force the Sox to guarantee his $20 million option for 2019. That would turn Hamels' deal into a five-year, $110 million contract, and while that's still quite reasonable compared to what the aforementioned Lester and Scherzer will likely pull in as free agents, Lester and Scherzer wouldn't cost the Sox Betts and more.
There isn't necessarily something here just yet. The Phillies are doing their homework, and the Sox will likely listen at the appropriate time. It's difficult to see them giving up Betts to get Hamels, however, not when they have so many other pieces they could move, and not when Hamels is essentially owed $110 million as far as the Red Sox are concerned. Those details will be discussed if the two sides actually call each other on this. For now, just know that the Phillies are interested in reloading their system by trading Hamels, and they believe Boston is a place where they can achieve that goal.