Cole Hamels is ready to be traded from the Phillies, as he wants to play out the rest of his four-year, $96 million contract with a winner. There is still the matter of his no-trade clause to be settled, however, but apparently Hamels has no issues waiving it so long as he's going to the right place. The Red Sox can relax a little, as Boston is one of those places: Hamels said so himself while talking to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
When asked if he would accept a trade to the Red Sox, Hamels responded, "Of course I would. It's a fun city. There is no better feeling than to have a chance to win every year, and they give you that chance. I'm all ears." While this is exciting news, in the sense that the Red Sox wouldn't get close to the finish line and then rebuffed by Hamels in trade talks, but there are still two major hurdles that need to be cleared before you go and order a custom Hamels' shirt from the Red Sox team store.
First of all, the Red Sox still need to come up with an offer that the Phillies are interested in. As things stand, the Sox aren't getting Hamels unless they give up top prospect Blake Swihart, and Boston has no desire to pay that price in February when they have five healthy starters, most with a level of impressive upside. They are taking a huge risk in not trading for Hamels, of course, but it's a risk they feel is worth it, or, at least, one they don't mind taking until mid-season when their needs are more clear than they are as spring training kicks off.
Second, Hamels only said he'd accept a trade to the Red Sox. He did not say "I won't even make the Red Sox pick up my $20 million option for 2019." It's very likely that Hamels will require his option to be picked up in order for his no-trade clause to be waived, and while the Red Sox likely aren't opposed to that -- it would lower the average annual value a bit, which helps for luxury tax purposes -- it is just another item in negotiations that needs to be figured out. If the Red Sox are taking on more guaranteed money, they are going to want the Phillies' prospect expectations to change, or for their owners to open up their own wallets and chip in.
It's not as simple as Hamels saying he'd come to Boston and then the Sox trading for him. The good news, though, is that Hamels is happy to come to the Red Sox even after a down 2014, because he knows they always have at least a chance at winning. If in July, the Red Sox are in a good spot but need Hamels to put them over the top, he should be there waiting for them, just as willing if not more to come to Boston. There is a lot that needs to happen between now and then, but this is one piece of the puzzle in place, and it's more than was there when this week began.