So you're saying there's a chance?
2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels continues to live in Philadelphia during the offseason. He, along with his former teammate Ryan Howard, attended the Eagles Super Bowl parade in February, just under 10 years after Hamels helped pitch the Phillies to their second World Series title. With the belief entering the season that the Phillies were close to returning to contention, it's not hard to see how some think a reunion between Hamels and the team that made him a first-round pick in 2002 could make sense.
What's more, while Hamels has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 21 teams, the Phillies aren't one of the teams that he's elected to block for the 2018 season, per MLB.com's Jon Morosi:
Source: Cole Hamels can block trades to all teams except Mariners, Cardinals, Nationals, Astros, Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Royals, and Rays. He earns $22.5M this season in final year of contract, followed by $20M club option ($6M buyout) for 2019. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 3, 2018
That Hamels hasn't elected to block a trade to the Phillies is interesting. Traditionally, players block teams that they view as serious contenders to trade for them. Blocking them gives the player a chance to block a trade if they aren't guaranteed a role they are happy with or that a future option (such as the $20 million club option Hamels has in 2019) will be exercised. A majority of the other teams on this list are teams that seem unlikely to trade for Hamels. The Cardinals, Nationals, Astros and Cubs are contenders, but ones with deep (and rather expensive in some cases) starting pitching staffs. Anything can happen, but the Mariners, Braves, Royals and Rays all would be surprise buyers at this summer's trade deadline, not to mention that many of them have financial constraints.
Given Hamels' history with the Phillies, along with their financial flexibility and prospect depth, it's not unreasonable to think the Phillies could show interest in Hamels this summer, should they in contention.
Still, the fit may not be as perfect as some think. The 34-year-old is in the midst of the final guaranteed year of a six-year/$144 million deal that he signed with the Phillies in July of 2012. An oblique strain limited Hamels to just 148.0 innings in 2017, essentially ending any chance that he pitches 400 or more innings between 2017 and 2018, which would cause his $20 million option for 2019 to vest. The Rangers could still choose to exercise Hamels' 2019 option, but that would require him bouncing back from a 2017 campaign in which he posted a 4.62 FIP. (Thus far, he's 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 2018.)
Hamels is just two seasons removed from a three-win season, so it's certainly possible that if he's able to stay healthy, he rebounds from the worst season of his career. If that's the case, he could become an interesting trade candidate in July. From here, unless it looks like the Phillies have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs in 2018, it's unlikely that general manager Matt Klentak will pull the trigger on a trade for Hamels. The Phillies could afford to exercise Hamels' 2019 option, though it's fair to wonder if they couldn't find a better way to allocate $20 million. More importantly, if Hamels rebounds, the Phillies would likely have to give up a fairly significant prospect return for a pitcher in his mid-30s that they could potentially just sign in the offseason instead.
As cool of a story as it would be for Hamels to return to Philadelphia for the end of his career, it's doubtful the Phillies would get in a bidding war for Hamels. Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta will be in the team's rotation for the foreseeable future, and it's possible that any of Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez will be as well. MLB Pipeline also projects that Sixto Sanchez, Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero, Franklyn Kilome, Ranger Suarez, Seranthony Dominguez and Enyel De Los Santos will all reach the majors at some point in 2019. Had Hamels been a free-agent last offseason, or even this offseason, he may have been a fit for the Phillies. He'll likely make less sense moving forward.
But, hey, stranger things have happened.