Cole Hamels name has come up in plenty of trade rumors since the end of the 2014 season. The teams showing the most interest, according to reports, are the Red Sox, the Dodgers, and the Cubs. The Red Sox appear like a likely landing spot as even after trading for/signing three starting pitchers at the Winter Meetings, they appear to be lacking an ace starter at the top of their rotation.
I have to say I don't get the love for former Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley, and adding Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson definitely helps a rotation that needed help, but Masterson is coming off a year where he put up a 5.88 ERA and a 4.50 FIP, so I am not sure what we can expect from him in 2015.
Back to the topic at hand: the Phillies and what they need to do to continue their rebuild. It is obvious this team, as it is currently constructed, won't be competing over the next few seasons. Their senior advisor, Pat Gillick who has built many winners in his career as a major league front office executive, has said the same. GM Ruben Amero Jr. has finally come to the reality as well.
The Phillies rebuild began at the Winter Meetings with the trade that sent shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers for pitching prospects Zach Eflin and Tom Windle. Not a bad return for one season of Rollins, although I thought I heard that the Phillies were paying some of Rollins salary as well. We will learn more when the deal becomes official, which should be sometime on Monday.
Here are two more deals the Phillies should make to continue their rebuild:
Trade Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz to the Pirates for Austin Meadows, Luis Heredia and Reese McGuire
Hamels is an ace and would push the Pirates into not only the favorite to win the NL Central, but possibly favorites to make the World Series in 2015. Adding Ruiz provides experience to the catcher position for the Buccos, and provides a better bat than recently acquire Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli probably offers more in the defensive metrics than Ruiz, but Ruiz has the better bat and has playoff experience.
Adding Hamels to a rotation that includes Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton would provide the Pirates with a rotation that is solid from top to bottom. The deal would result in a surplus of pitching for the Pirates, with Jeff Locke and Vance Worley providing rotation depth or trade bait.
To get Hamels, the price won't be cheap, and that is why outfield prospect Austin Meadows headlines the package. Meadows performed well in Low A when healthy last season, but he managed just 165 plate appearances last season, hitting .322-.388-.486 with 3 home runs, 18 runs scored and 15 RBI. Meadows is about three years away from seeing the big leagues, and is currently blocked by the Pirates outfield trio of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco. The Pirates aren't seen as a team that will increase payroll over the $100 million level, but a move like this would certainly be worth it.
Heredia and McGuire are still young, and might appear to be too much to add to a package headed by Meadows, but as with all prospects, they come with risk of not making the big leagues, so including both could be the offer that Amaro can't refuse.
Trade Marlon Byrd to the Mariners for Patrick Kivlehan
The Mariners need an outfielder after trading Michael Saunders to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ. Why they did that, I cannot explain. Byrd is coming off a solid season in Philadelphia, hitting .264 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI in 154 games. He can play outfield for the Mariners and to an improved lineup:
CF Austin Jackson
LF Dustin Ackley
2B Robinson Cano
DH Nelson Cruz
3B Kyle Seager
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Logan Morrison
C Mike Zunino
SS Chris Taylor
To get Byrd, the Mariners give up young third baseman Patrick Kivelan, who is blocked at third base for the next seven years with the Mariners extending Seager this offseason. Kivlehan offers the Phillies a third baseman for the foreseeable future, especially since some think the third base prospect Maikel Franco may have to move across the diamond to first base. Kivelhan hit .282-.331-.563 with 9 home runs, 24 runs scored and 35 RBI in 157 plate appearances in High A last season. He was promoted to AA where he hit .300-.374-.485 with 11 home runs, 60 runs scored and 68 RBI in 430 plate appearances. He could start the 2015 season in AAA with a mid to late season call up a possibility.