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Red Sox beat writer Nick Cafardo wrote an article yesterday for the Boston Globe saying that Cole Hamels might be a viable trade option for the Boston Red Sox and would make “perfect sense” for the Sox to pursue him.
Blasphemy. Blasphemy, I say.
Hamels, the hard throwing southpaw from San Diego, has had a successful 9-year career so far and has been a quiet ace all season long, despite his 3-5 record on a terrible Phillies team. He led his team to a World Series championship in 2008 and won the World Series MVP award. This is a very good pitcher with a long track record of success and he’s got an affordable contract.
That said, the Sox would be foolish to make a trade for him.
Trading for Cole Hamels would mean the end of Jon Lester‘s career in Boston. Is that really the smartest move? In Lester, the Red Sox have a proven top of the rotation lefty who has found great success, fits well in Boston, and most importantly wants to be here. He has even said on multiple occasions that he would take a home town discount to stay here.
Now, the Red Sox may have messed that up when they offered him a low-ball deal in April and still haven’t come close enough in negotiations to a point where Lester is willing to sign. In fact, Lester recently told the Sox management that he doesn’t want to discuss a contract at this time. Can anyone blame him? He’s been jerked around by Larry Lucchino and Co. and I wouldn’t blame him one bit for saying “see ya!” Every day that he goes without signing an extension, his value rises more and more.
Lester would be highly sought after in the Free Agent market. Cafardo writes that some teams could offer him as much as $180 million. In fact, the “Rangers, Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Brewers, and Rockies could all be in the hunt,” notes Cafardo. Jon Lester is going to be paid.
Back to Hamels. He is locked up for the next four years at about $22.5 million a year. This is the main selling point for the Sox ownership and really the only thing in the “pro” column in this dilemma. But Hamels, as successful as he’s been, pitches in the NL East, which has really been the worst division in baseball. On top of that, his career stats against the American League is 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA.
Why take on the risk that Hamels might not be able to pitch in the AL East or handle the pressure that this market entails? Jon Lester is a proven entity, the fanbase loves him, and he’s a postseason workhorse who has two World Series rings. There have been plenty of occassions where guys change markets and all of the sudden they can’t perform as well.
That’s not even to say what Hamels is going to cost. The Phillies are a team that is going to need to take home a big haul for their ace pitcher. We”d be looking at 3-4 of our best prospects to get Hamels. Try something like Mookie Betts, Anthony Renaudo, Blake Swihart, and Garin Cecchini. That’s a huge investment for an unknown commodity. Not to mention that depleting your system to that degree completely hampers our ability to go and get an outfield power bat. Remember that Giancarlo Stanton guy? He’s pretty good, right? Yeah, forget about it.
So why would the Red Sox replace Lester, a proven guy, with Hamels, who hasn’t had much success against AL teams, when they would have give up four top prospects on top of that? The answer, of course, is money. The Red Sox could really let Lester go over money. It drives me wild. Just pay the man! He’s done everything to earn a new contract.
The Sox are at the point where they would really have to blow Lester away with an offer for him to re-sign. I would be looking at something like 5 years/130 million. This is at least what he could command on the open market, but I think he would take it in a second if he was offered this deal by the Red Sox. Come on John Henry, are you really going to let your ace go (not to mention the prospects) because you want to save $3.5 million a year? This is the Boston Red Sox. You should not be outbid by anyone.
It doesn’t end there, either. Your top paid guys next year are David Ortiz ($16 mill.), Mike Napoli ($16 mill.), Shane Victorino ($13 mill.) and Dustin Pedroia ($12.5 mil.). So there’s no high priced superstar who’s commanding a ton of money. If you’re not paying Lester, who are you paying? Plus, we’re going to see a lot of young prospects on the team in the coming years, guys like Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Betts, Renaudo, Henry Owens, and Christian Vazquez, among others. These guys will all be on relatively cheap rookie deals.
There are just too many reasons to keep Lester, give him his money and keep your prospects, and forget about Cole Hamels. The Sox ownership has done some great things over the last few years. The big Dodgers trade made them look like geniuses and then they won the World Series with a gang of misfits. Don’t ruin this now by playing hardball with your best pitcher. Your team isn’t good enough to do that.