The Red Sox have called the Phillies to talk about a potential trade for Cole Hamels according to Jayson Stark spurring the Phillies to focus their scouting efforts on Boston's farm system in recent days. Start delivered the news today in a chat with SportsNation on ESPN.com:
Zero [chance for a trade] on Howard and Utley. Slim on Hamels, although as I've been writing and saying on the air, it wouldn't be accurate to say he's "unavailable" -- because they've told several teams what it would take to get him. In fact, the Phillies had scouts zeroing in on the Red Sox system in the last few days, and I was told it was because the Red Sox had called on Hamels.
We've heard the Red Sox linked to Hamels before, but this is fairly concrete. The idea for Boston is to have their cake and eat it too, locking up a front-line pitcher to replace Jon Lester, but without committing to the huge contract in terms of both years and dollars it would take to re-sign Lester long-term.
The costs to such a move are, however, considerable. Even ignoring that Hamels is owed quite a bit of money over the next four years, the Red Sox would have to open up their farm system, trading away the minor league talent that they have so coveted this past decade. And what would they get back? An impressive arm, to be sure, but not one that has ever had to contend with pitching in the American League, much less Fenway Park.
Certainly, there's nothing wrong with the Red Sox keeping their options open. Simply having this possibility out there could convince Lester not to hold out for max value if he really would prefer to stay in Boston (though the idea of a significant home-town discount seems well in the past now). Still, unless the Red Sox can get very creative with their trading, this seems like a very complicated way to answer a problem with some simpler solutions. It might not turn out to be a bad idea in the end, but for a team that seems averse to risk, six years with the player you know seems preferable to four years with the one you don't.