The United Cardinal Bloggers have an annual roundtable where each writer poses a question to the group for a little discussion. I asked the group about the potential to acquire Cole Hamels and the cost to get him. The results were pretty much unanimous.
With Cole Hamels expressing a desire to play for a contender, should the Cardinals consider making a move and why? Who shold be off limits in trade talks? What should be the upper limit of the Cardinals offer?
Remember, the Phillies are asking for at least 2 top prospects as a starting point. The Phillies have been rumored to have rejected an offer of Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe. They are also requesting Carlos Martinez from the Cardinals.
Bill Ivie (I-70 Baseball, Bleacher Report): I think spring will tell us more about this. Carlos shouldn’t be untouchable, but I don’t think we have a good evaluation of what he is worth quite yet, either. If he shows that he can start becoming a force in the rotation, then there’s no need for Hamels. That said, if you can improve your club, you should at least entertain it.
With the addition of Heyward, there’s a outfield surplus on this team that can be addressed. Utilizing players like Stephen Piscotty can allow the Cards to hold on to other top prospects that they covet. It’s also important to remember that the “top” prospects in this franchise are not considered that highly ranked across baseball. The Cardinals may not have prospects that reach the heights that the Phillies are desiring.
Ultimately, I think the Cardinals can pass for right now and re-approach if he is still available once the season is underway.
Doug V (Baseball Geek in Galveston): We should give up on Hamels and move on. The outfield surplus is a good thing, it gives us flexibility. This isn’t the Dodgers situation like last year, with a bunch of big egos. Having Bourjos give us a defensive boost on Jays off days and also speed off the bench, and Grichuk is a developing power hitter who we could groom to take Hollidays place.
In season, the Phillies might seek just as much as they’re demanding and not more. Amaro seems like the stubborn type and I doubt he’ll lower his requests too much.
We need to move on
Ben Chambers (The View From Here): I did read earlier this week that the Phillies said that any trade for Hamels with the Cardinals will require Carlos Martinez to be a part of the deal. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Like Bill said, I don’t think Carlos is untouchable. He has the potential to be great, but I could write a list a mile long with players that had a ton of potential that never really panned out the way that the team had hoped.
The outfield is the main area that the Cardinals do have an excess at the higher levels. Trading James Ramsey away did help alleviate the flow, but it’s still there. Pham, Piscotty, and Grichuk are knocking on the door. Trading one of those guys, Jay, Bourjos, or if possible, to get Matt Holliday to waive his no-trade clause, the outfield would be a great spot to try to deal out of.
If the Phillies are going to ask for the world, obviously there’s no reason to even try and make a trade. The Cardinals don’t need Hamels. They have enough quality arms to fill out where they need. Ask me again around the trade deadline and that answer might change.
Dan Buffa (Cardinals Farm): The Cole Hamels situation is like a sweepstakes that keeps popping up on the radio no matter where I go. I’ve written about it way back and also recently, and my position has not changed. The Cards do not require a pitcher of Hamels’ stature right now. Every team needs a pitcher like Hamels. He is still a Cy Young caliber pitcher, but the Cards are not in a position of desperate need. Why give up the last remaining juicy prospects from your AA-AAA system for a pitcher with 1,800 innings racked up on his left arm? If people are worried about Waino’s innings, they will be petrified about Cole’s count. With five set arms ready to push out of the gate, why would Mo sacrifice a few pieces of his crop. Folks, lets not be soft and ignorant here. Ruben Amaro Jr. will ask for Carlos, Piscotty, and a couple others. Why not? Hamels ranked in the top 10 in Cy Young voting and can still carry a staff. That takes away a young cost controlled pitcher(until 2017) and Holliday’s potential replacement. Let’s not act like Randal Grichuk is the answer to Philadelphia’s prayers. Amaro will want the supreme crop and it’s not worth it. The Cards can hold onto their guys for now. Let’s see what Martinez has and let’s see what Marco Gonzales can do. Let’s watch the last ride of Jaime Garcia.
Why invest 23 million dollars in Hamels when the office will eventually need a power boosting in 2-3 years with guys like Holliday and Molina starting to slow down and Peralta reaching the end of his contract? Save the cash for a big gun in the lineup instead of blowing it right now on a taxed arm when you have 7 potential starting candidates. Sure, couple of those arms have some injury history themselves and a couple are unproven, but they are still the smarter route at the moment than selling it all away for Cole. Let the Red Sox have him. This would be a different conversation if Lance Lynn didn’t ascend in 2014 and John Lackey wasn’t around.
Carlos Martinez and Stephen Piscotty aren’t off limits but I think they both would be required to do this trade and for that I say NO.
Walk into 2015 with what you have. Turn the leaf over on a couple rookies. Go from there.
Daniel Shoptaw (C70 at the Bat): Given the costs, I’d probably be more inclined to see if Cliff Lee was available later in the year, as I think he’d take much less in prospects to obtain, though obviously he’s not at the level of Hamels nor would he be around for a significant period of time.
Hamels is definitely intriguing and it’s a nice thing to hear St. Louis is a place he’d like to go. A post-season rotation of Wainwright, Hamels, Lynn and Wacha is going to be able to hold their own with everyone, even those Nationals.
As everyone else has said, though, you probably should figure out what you have in Martinez before you ship him off. At least Hamels wouldn’t be a rent-a-player, but still Martinez might be able to give you what Hamels will over the next four years and be trending upward instead of downward.
Still (I’m still turning this over in my head if you can’t tell), Hamels would give this team something that it’s not had in a while–a reliable lefty starter. That’s not the be all and end all, of course, but it is a nice thing to have. Especially when he’s two years younger than our current ace. Flip side of THAT is that he’s never had any significant injury history, so if it’s going to happen, it’d be on the Cardinals’ watch. Urgh.
I don’t think I’m as dead set against this as most folks or as much as I was before I started this rambling missive. Still, I don’t think I pull the trigger. I don’t think.
Doug V: So if Martinez has a bad year that automatically means he’s going to have a bad career?
Daniel Shoptaw: Of course not. I’m not sure that anyone has suggested that and if I did, I surely didn’t intend to. Though a bad year would definitely make folks reconsider what they have in Martinez. And it would depend on how the bad year was obtained–if he got unlucky with a bad BABIP, for instance, I don’t think that’s nearly as bad as if he can’t find the strike zone on a regular basis.
Daniel Solzman (Redbird Rants): Hamels has been linked to the Cardinals since last season. He was linked repeatedly during the offseason. At this point, the Cardinals have plenty of depth in their pitching should a major injury occur to their rotation or bullpen. I just can’t imagine Mozeliak making a trade for Hamels. He’s not about to give up on Martinez and while I’m not exactly sold on what Carlos done with the Cardinals, I am not about to throw him under a bus either.
What we do know from what Derrick Goold has reported is that the Phillies have an interest in Peter Bourjos and Carlos Martinez. I could see Bourjos being moved since there’s a crowded outfield but who would the Phillies want if Martinez is not on the table?
Many of the top prospects like Stephen Piscotty should certainly be off limits. The future for Piscotty really depends on whether or not Jason Heyward decides to sign beyond this season with St. Louis.
Dathan Brooks (Go Crazy, Big Boy): As he’s known in Philadelphia, “Ruin Tomorrow” Jr has made this bed that he’s in (and probably soon to be kicked out of). Handing out those contracts Howard, Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Lidge…etc has put his organization in the situation it’s in today.
I think the Cards are an attractive potential trade partner for him, due to relatively deep farm systems, and upward flexibility in payroll. But the Cards aren’t the Marlins–finding themselves in “win now” mode every so often. To “win now” is expected in St. Louis every year, so overspending for a guy to help make that push isn’t a common occurrence around here.
No way I make this move right now. Looking down the road, and admittedly into a non-existent vacuum, one thing stands out: Which team is more likely to get desperate come June/July, STL or PHI?
Matt Whitener (Cheap Seats, Please): At this point, I don’t see the upside of trading away assets for a starting pitcher, even Cole Hamels who is in the 10-to-15 best starters in baseball.
Despite all of the riches it has provided over the past few years, the system is in a state of renewal currently and needs to be allowed to harvest the talent that is within it. Maybe it made sense handing over a number of the prized assets within it a few years ago, but not right now.
And at any rate, making such a move for a luxury addition is never the prudent way to do business. This Cardinal team is not “one piece away” or at the risk of their competitive window closing in the immediate future. Also, the rotation is not in immediate need of a major upgrade at any position. The fifth starter spot for a team with the depth of the Cardinals should be able to hold a player that needs to get some experience underneath his belt for days to come. By continuing to bounce Carlos Martinez in and out of the rotation, he runs the risk of becoming a Joba Chamberlain-type of hollow talent that never ever quite found his niche. Martinez pitched well in the winter for the second straight year as a starter, pitched a lights out spring just a year ago and is finally at the age and point in his career where it is time for him to get regular work in an MLB rotation.
The Cardinals are deep and can compete at the highest level right now, and already passed on multiple additions on the open market that were just as impactful as Hamels, but would not cost anything from the existing infrastructure to bring on.
All things considered, as nice as it would seem, making a move for Hamels would be far too costly and far too much of a “living in the moment” move for this team.
Mark Tomasik (RetroSimba): Cole Hamels is 17-23 over the last 2 seasons. He only once has had more than 15 wins in a season. He’s a good, effective pitcher who has pitched more than 200 innings in each of the last 5 years. He’d help the Cardinals, but he’s not the kind of ace who is worth parting with a talent such as Carlos Martinez.
Tara Wellman (Bird Tales): It’s an interesting thought, bringing in a proven guy like Hamels. But, you know what they say about the grass looking greener on the other side…
Obviously, health plays a primary role in the success of any starting rotation, and the Cardinals’ 2015 projected five have some questions to answer as far as that goes. That said, I’m pretty happy with the current group of starters. More than that, I’m very ready to see if Carlos Martinez can be the future of the rotation that so many of us believe him to be.
If I’m GM, knowing that Martinez + Prospects will have to go to get a Hamels-type guy, I’m not interested. Based on Mo’s track record, I don’t think he is either. He’s protected young starting pitching with a singular focus. Look at Shelby Miller — I know there were teams asking about him over the last couple years, and yet it took the perfect return at the perfect time before Mozeliak would go there.
Should Martinez be “off limits?” No. But he should be off the table as long as the return is of limited impact to the organization. Like Matt said, this isn’t a team that is trying to find that one last piece. It’s a team that doesn’t have to upgrade. While Mo is an opportunistic guy, he’s not reckless. He also has a pretty solid handle on how to compete now while preparing for the future all at the same time.To once again echo Matt, the Cardinals need to find out what they truly have in this young player. To do that, he has to have a real chance to start Big League games, every five days. Putting him in a starting rotation where he doesn’t have to be the guy is the perfect way to let him develop. That’s what Martinez needs, and that’s what this team can do.
Hamels is welcome to visit The Lou anytime, though. The frozen custard alone is worth the road trip!
Eugene: If the Cardinals could pull this off without giving up Martinez, I’d be more for it. The rotation is pretty well set without Hamels, so it’s not a pressing need for the team.