Where and When Will the Phillies Trade Cole Hamels?

There is no Cole Hamels deal imminent. But in the dead of winter, talking possible Hamels trades around the hot stove becomes a great way to keep warm.

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Photo | Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Photo | Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

They call it the hot stove league. “They” meaning “baseball media and fans.” As Wikipedia helpfully notes in delightfully awkward prose, “The phrase does not denote an actual league, but instead calls up images of baseball fans gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months, discussing their favorite baseball teams and players.”

And fans in Philadelphia are dealing with chilly temperatures by gathering around the hot stove and talking about Cole Hamels. Phillies fans with weak hearts may want to stop reading now if they don’t already know: The Phillies are trying to trade Hamels.

In a report on CSN Philly, longtime Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury says they are in “staredowns” with several clubs, naming the Cardinals, Padres, Rangers and Red Sox. He adds he doesn’t expect the trade to come soon, saying it will be delayed until the “warmer months.”

The snag in getting making a deal? An executive told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman says an executive told him the Phillies are asking for a “huge” package for Hamels.

This is not something Philadelphia sports fans say too often about Ruben Amaro Jr. these days, but this is a smart move by the GM. The Phillies do not need to move Hamels now: He has four years left on his deal, and he’s coming off his best season ever. Barring an unexpected drop-off for Hamels, teams will be interested over the summer. Teams will be interested next year.

Hamels is expensive, and he may require teams that want him to pick up his 2019 option if they’re on his no-trade list. But, as Rob Neyer pointed out, trading for Hamels gives you at least four years of a three-time All-Star with a 3.27 career ERA. It gets you four years of a player who has already proven himself in the postseason on several occasions. Someone will bite.

That may be the Cardinals, who are interested in adding another front-line starter. It may be the Padres, who have been busy this offseason, and would love to lock up the Southern California native. The Rangers, coming off a disastrous 95-loss season, could attempt to spring back to contention with a Hamels deal.

It doesn’t end there. The Cubs were interested this offseason, though the team has has now signed free agent pitcher Jon Lester. Meanwhile, Jimmy Rollins says Hamels would love to join him on the Dodgers: “He did talk about how lovely it would be if we both ended up in L.A. That would be one heck of a move right there.” (Another Ex-Phillie, Shane Victorino, says he’d love to see Hamels on the Red Sox — a team that turned down proposals for Hamels trades early this offseason. The Sox have plenty of prospects, but haven’t talked to the Phillies recently.

Phillies fans can keep discussing Hamels by the stove for the rest of the winter. But they might want to start reminiscing about the good old days. The 2008 World Series MVP is not long for Philadelphia.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.