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Unreasonable Phillies demands make Cole Hamels trade unlikely

High demands from Ruben Amaro Jr. could spell the end to any possibility of a Cole Hamels deal for the Red Sox.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While the Red Sox are expected to focus on free agency to bolster their rotation, there has always been the chance that they could turn to the trade market and, in particular, to Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, made available by a too-old team looking to reboot. According to Buster Olney, however, that route might be one best not traveled:

To put it gently, Ruben Amaro Jr. is quite the wild card, giving some life to any and all trade ideas with the Phillies, even when it seems like there's no chance a deal can be reached. It's impossible to be sure who he's going to value highly, and who he'll be willing to let go for pennies on the dollar.

Here, however, it seems clear that Amaro's erratic nature is working against any potential Cole Hamels deal, which matches the news from last night that the Phillies were scouting players like Mookie Betts.

Granted, Cole Hamels is quite the player. He put up a 2.46 ERA in 2014, and in the three seasons prior to that had struck out four times as many batters as he walked. Signed for $90 million over the next four years with a team option in the fifth, Hamels' contract is also fairly reasonable, if not a bargain. Back in the day that would all combine to make Hamels a huge trade chip--practically unattainable.

But as Olney mentions, everything comes in the context of the current market, and the current market features pitchers Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields, to say nothing of a handful of mid-tier pitchers. And where Hamels requires both a large salary and cost-controlled talent to acquire, these pitchers will need only a contract, even if it will likely end up being slightly less reasonable than Hamels'.

The upshot of this is that, so long as there are free agent options available, there is no incentive for a team to meet Amaro's high demands. The Phillies will just have to wait and hope that, when the dust has settled and there are no free agents left, that someone is still desperate for front-line pitching. Hopefully, that team won't be the Boston Red Sox.