The Phillies acquired three players of note ahead of Friday's 4:00 p.m. MLB Trade Deadline. They added starter Kyle Gibson, closer Ian Kennedy, and infielder Freddy Galvis. They also picked up a prospect in starting pitcher Hans Crouse, who immediately became their number four Phillies prospect on MLB Pipeline. But the Phillies might not be done. With an injury to Zach Eflin and the need to replace Vince Velasquez in the starting rotation, the Phillies need one more arm.
That arm could come in former Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. The Phillies were one of 20 teams who watched Hamels throw on July 16. Hamels has continued to build up strength and it is believed that he would be able to help a Major League team.
But are the Phillies interested?
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com wrote on Friday evening that the Phillies still could look at Hamels, and Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski seemed to indicate it was possible:
“It’s a topic that we still need to revisit, actually,” Dombrowski said Friday evening. “Because again, we just did all these types of [trades]. We like Cole. There’s a lot of things we like about him. But now we need to sit down actually after we’re done here. We’re going to try to revisit the conversation ourselves and see where it takes us.”
Here is how it might work for the Phillies.
The Phillies had about $4.5 million or so available under the competitive balance tax threshold as the deadline was about to hit. The Phillies received in trades just about that money, before adding salaries of Gibson, Kennedy, and Galvis. That means the Phillies still have about $4 million to work with.
That could be a competitive advantage compared to other teams looking to add a starter. The Phillies could have accommodated Gibson, Kennedy, and Galvis under their available money. Yet, they got some money back in trades anyway.
Will they spend that on Hamels?
The Los Angeles Dodgers might have been interested in Hamels. Instead they landed Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals. Presumably, they will not have interest in Hamels.
The one team that could be a challenger for Hamels is the San Diego Padres.
The Padres were reportedly close to a deal that would have sent Scherzer to the Padres. But the Phillies and Nationals were still mid-game and Scherzer did not have the opportunity to review potential trade destinations. What exactly happened is unclear, but Scherzer ended up going to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Padres added reliever Daniel Hudson and outfielder Jake Marisnick at the deadline. But not a starter.
Hamels is a San Diego native who once dreamed of playing for the Padres. But as he approached free agency in the past, Hamels said there was a "one in 30 chance" he would play for the Padres. Would this time be different?
The Phillies have more money available than the Padres. Would they be willing to spend it on Hamels? And how much would it take?
Hamels earned $18 million (prorated by COVID) to throw 3 2/3 innings for the Atlanta Braves last season. There are two months left of the 2021 season, and Hamels would be lucky to throw one month's worth of starts in the major leagues. Would he play for an amount that fits comfortably in the $4 million space the Phillies have left?
The Padres, meanwhile, would likely have to exceed the threshold. Sportrac has the Padres about $1.6 million below the competitive balance tax threshold. The Padres may not wish to exceed that for Hamels, who remains somewhat of a wild card.
But the Phillies, who perhaps could use a boost of energy from a Hamels signing, could spend a month knowing he is on the way and the benefits coming from that. It would excite the fan base, well ahead of when he might pitch for them in Philadelphia. And, perhaps most importantly, he might pitch better than Chase Anderson, the likely replacement for Velasquez, and Matt Moore.
This is worth watching.