Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dodgers Up Next on Hamels

Rumors have outfielder Joc Pederson on Phillies radar
The latest rumors have the Los Angeles Dodgers as the next team in pursuit of Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels, with Phils management researching the top LA prospects in anticipation of upcoming trade negotiations. 
There are certainly a number of good reasons both clubs would pursue such a deal.
From the Phillies end, the same principles apply as in recent weeks with both the Cubs and Red Sox. A team flush with strong prospects that could offer the Phils a chance to add a trio of young pieces for their future.
From the Dodgers end, a slightly different dynamic than exists with the Cubbies and Bosox. Those are teams with significant shortcomings, one building with youth, the other working hard to rebound from a last-place finish.
But Los Angeles is a winner right now. The Dodgers won the NL West crown this past season. They have deep-pocketed, competitive ownership hungry to win a World Series in 2015.
The Dodgers lost shortstop Hanley Ramirez to free agency (to Boston), and that would appear to be their first order of business. But don’t forget, the Phillies have stated a desire to move their veterans. Would Jimmy Rollins accept a trade for a legitimate shot at another world championship?
Pairing Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins in a deal to the Dodgers would make Los Angeles the clear front-runners in the National League in 2015. Their rotation would feature a trio of aces, with Hamels joining 3-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and former AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren rounding out the rotation.
Dodgers fans are likely to balk at the price it would take to get Hamels, suggesting that the lefty is not in the class of Kershaw. That, of course, is not the point. The simple fact is that what Hamels is, is the best starting pitcher available to Los Angeles.
Neither Jon Lester or Max Scherzer is going to LA, and the other free agents are clearly not as good as the Phils ace. Hamels also is controlled at a reasonable price for his talent. The $23.5 million he will earn in each of the next 4 seasons is market value, and over the next few years is likely to become even more so.
Hamels is outstanding, having a career 3.27 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Hamels is reliable, having made at least 30 starts in 7 straight seasons, besting the 200 innings mark in the last 5 consecutive seasons. He can dominate, having struck out over 1,700 hitters in just over 1,800 innings. He is a true ace.
For a team as flush with cash as the Dodgers, the contract is the easiest part of the price for them to handle. The tough part for LA and it’s fans? The real cost, which will be three strong prospects, perhaps the three best in the Dodgers system.
The Phillies have been reported to have demanded shortstop Corey Seager, outfielder Joc Pederson, and young lefty pitcher Julio Urias in exchange for Hamels alone in recent months. For me, that is the price that they need to stick with. And for me, it gets the Dodgers their pitcher in Hamels as well as the bonus of JRoll to play shortstop.
Jimmy Rollins not only would bring veteran, winning leadership and experience to the Dodgers locker room for the next couple of seasons, but also brings a still-high skills level to their lineup. He hit 17 homers and had 28 steals in 2014.
Rollins is also reliable, having just recorded his 4th straight season with more than 600 plate appearances, now having exceeded that mark in 13 of the last 14 years.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Becoming front-runners in the National League, vaulting themselves clearly ahead of not only the Washington Nationals and Saint Louis Cardinals, but also the defending World Series champion and arch-rival San Francisco Giants, the price of Pederson, Seager, and Urias is entirely reasonable.
It has been said that doing this kind of deal has to hurt for both teams. Trust me, losing a homegrown World Series MVP in Cole Hamels and the homegrown franchise all-time Hits leader and icon Jimmy Rollins will hurt the Phillies and their fans.
Before any Dodgers fans balk at such a price as their top 3 prospects, do yourselves a favor, and do a little research. Look back over the last decade or so at the top few prospects in each MLB team’s system. Then look at how many of those once-promising kids actually panned out into stars.
This is what it will take. It will not be easy for either side. But a trade of Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, and Julio Urias is the right deal for these two teams. We’ll see if either GM has what it takes to get such a deal done.

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