The Phillies and Cole Hamels are about to hit a fork in the road. The Phillies are reportedly set to offer a six-year, $130 million extension to their young ace before the July 31 trade deadline.
Will Hamels take a deal, comparable to the pact Giants ace Matt Cain signed earlier this season? Or will Hamels pass on an agreement and be traded to a team hoping to add that missing piece?
“If the Phillies trade Hamels, they need to find a pair of teams racing against each other in the division with hopes of winning the World Series,” an NL executive said. “Those teams are the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.”
That’s spot on for a variety of reasons. The Rangers and Angels are battling for the AL West crown. The Rangers lead the division but, if the season ended [Thursday], the Angels would be a wild card.
Each team is going all out this season. The Rangers, which won the last two AL pennants, lost in excruciating fashion in the World Series to St. Louis. Nolan Ryan’s team was a strike away from winning it all, not once but twice, in their bid to capture the franchise’s first World Series crown.
The Rangers can use an ace, like Hamels, with a World Series MVP already on his mantle. The Angels need an ace to complement Jered Weaver, who gave his club a huge hometown discount last season (six years, $85 million). The Angels spent a fortune on slugger Albert Pujols and former Ranger ace C.J. Wilson during the offseason.
And both teams have the talent to make a trade for Hamels possible. The Rangers have the best farm system in baseball, according to Baseball America, and own two extraordinary prospects, in shortstop Jurickson Profar and third baseman Mike Olt — plus a number of strong arms (Alexi Ogando, Mark Lowe) in the bullpen.
The Angels could deal blazing fast center fielder Peter Bourjos, who could replace Shane Victorino if he is dealt over the next few days. And rumor has it that hard-throwing Angels rookie right-hander Garrett Richards could be had in a trade for Hamels. That would be two players who could help the Phils immediately.
“I think the Phillies will sign Hamels or trade him soon,” the NL executive said. “I don’t see him back on the team after July 31 unless he signs a deal.”