Yankees have “come the closest” to landing Cole Hamels according to obvious Phillies’ smokescreen

Hole Camels. (Presswire)
Hole Camels. (Presswire)

The regular season begins four weeks from today, which means we have potentially four more weeks of Cole Hamels trade rumors until he gets the ball for the Phillies on Opening Day. Back in January we heard the Yankees had inquired but were not seriously pursuing Philadelphia’s lefty ace, who does not have New York on his 21-team no-trade list.

Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo reported the Yankees have “come the closest” to landing Hamels among all of the clubs trying to get him. Here’s the full blurb from Cafardo just so there’s nothing lost in translation:

According to one Phillies source, the Yankees have come the closest to landing Hamels, offering a package of prospects that at least has given the Phillies a baseline for future talks.

Yesterday afternoon, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. followed Cafardo’s report by telling Jake Kaplan one team has “stepped up and has shown more particular interest” in Hamels in recent days. Cafardo says his info came from the Phillies and Kaplan spoke to Amaro directly, so there’s no confusion here. This is all coming from the Phillies.

It’s pretty obvious Philadelphia is negotiating through the media now and are trying to put the pressure on … someone. The Red Sox have been linked to Hamels the most in recent weeks and months, reportedly balking at an asking price that includes catcher prospect Blake Swihart, so hey, pulling Boston’s archrival into the mix is a smart move by the Phillies. This is an obvious smokescreen.

I think the Phillies are trying to drive up the price in general, not specifically for the Red Sox. They don’t really care where they trade Hamels — they shouldn’t anyway, the trade is too important to the future of the franchise to handicap things by refusing to trade with certain teams — they want the best possible return. If that’s from the Red Sox, great. If it’s from the Yankees or Rangers or Padres, fine. Whatever. The Phillies simply want the best package of players.

For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman reported yesterday the Yankees have never been particularly close to acquiring Hamels, though he did add some names to the trade rumor mix. From Heyman:

While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that they’ve never received a “definite request,” and another person familiar with the talks suggested “it was a feel out … nothing solid,” it is known the Phillies like Yankees righthanded pitching prospect Luis Severino and power prospect Aaron Judge … It is believed the Phillies might be interested in a package along the lines of Severino, Judge and perhaps infielder Rob Refsnyder for Hamels.

The Yankees could use a pitcher like Hamels because every team could use a pitcher like Hamels. He’s excellent. Legitimately a top ten pitcher in baseball. Plus he’s signed to a favorable contract — Hamels is owed $94M through 2018 with a vesting option for 2019, which is about two-thirds of what he would get as a free agent. Now that Cliff Lee’s elbow is acting up again, there’s no realistically available alternative to Hamels if you want a top starter.

The injury concerns in New York’s rotation mean they would benefit more from acquiring Hamels than some other teams. They shied away from spending this winter in years more than dollars — they didn’t want to hand out any massive six or seven-year contracts. I think they would be willing to pay the right player $20M+ annually for the right number of years, which may or may not mean Hamels. But would they take on the money and trade top prospects too? They Yankees have been hesitant to do that in the recent past.

My opinion: If the Yankees can get Hamels without giving up Judge, they should jump all over it. That isn’t to say Judge should be untouchable, just that I’m hugging him the most out of the club’s prospects. Ideally, on an ideal situation, something like Severino, Refsnyder, and Gary Sanchez would get it done, but I doubt that happens. Hamels is elite and you’re not going to find any other pitchers of this caliber with that favorable a contract. He helps the Yankees not only in 2015, but 2016-18 as well.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 9th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2-1 (25 RS, 19 RA)
Grapefruit League Record: 4-2-1 (25 RS, 19 RA)
Opponents This Week: vs. Rays (Mon. on YES, MLB.tv), @ Orioles (Tues. on MLB.tv), vs. Red Sox (Weds. on YES, MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Braves (Thurs. on YES, MLB.tv), @ Red Sox (Fri. on MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Tigers (Sat. split squad on YES, MLB.tv), @ Blue Jays (Sat. split squad on MLB.tv), vs. Phillies (Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

  • Following last season’s elbow surgery, Masahiro Tanaka altered his mechanics to make sure “his arm is in sync with the rest of his delivery.” He’s scheduled to make his first start of the spring on Thursday after throwing a two-inning simulated game on Saturday.
  • Injury Updates: Luis Torrens (shoulder) will miss the 2015 season due to a torn right labrum. Carlos Beltran (elbow) says he is “pain free.” Brendan Ryan (back) is slowly making progress but is worried he won’t be ready for Opening Day. Rob Refnsyder (elbow) dealt with “normal fatigue” for a few days but has since returned to action.
  • Depending on when you asked, Jimmy Rollins may or may not have been willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Yankees. The Yankees signed Mat Gamel to a minor league deal.
  • Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has been cleared to sign by MLB and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. He may have a damaged UCL though.

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the “Features” tab above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Open Thread: March 8th Camp Notes

Thanks to Cole Figueroa’s go-ahead eighth inning single, the Yankees beat the Nationals by the score of 3-2 this afternoon. Brett Gardner and Jose Pirela drove in the other two runs with infield singles. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Garrett Jones, and Chris Young all went 0-for-3 while Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann both went 1-for-2. A-Rod blooped a ground rule double to right and McCann singled to left to beat the shift. Pirela had two knocks off the bench.

Adam Warren gave up a solo homer on the very first pitch of the game but otherwise settled down and threw three pretty uneventful innings. Andrew Miller struck out one in a perfect inning and Dellin Betances struck out two after allowing a ground ball double down the line in his spring debut. He threw one inning. Luis Severino struck out three and allowed an unearned run in 1.1 innings of work. Wilking Rodriguez and Jared Burton retired the final six Nats batters to close out the game. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest from Tampa:

  • CC Sabathia threw a 29-pitch live batting practice session this morning and said he “felt good, no problems. I was able to throw everything.” He’ll throw a two-inning simulated game next before pitching in an actual Grapefruit League game. [Erik Boland, Meredith Marakovits]
  • During an in-game interview with the YES booth, Joe Girardi confirmed Masahiro Tanaka will start Thursday’s game against the Braves. Here’s the rotation for Monday through Friday: Michael Pineda (Nathan Eovaldi in relief), Chase Whitley, Chris Capuano, Tanaka, Warren. [Chad Jennings]
  • A-Rod played the field today but will DH tomorrow with Beltran playing right field. “I wouldn’t expect too much movement (in the field this year),” said Alex. “Ball’s hit to me, catch it and throw to first. It’s not going to be an Ozzie Smith year.” [Marly Rivera, Jennings]
  • Capuano, Bryan Mitchell, Jose Ramirez, Andrew Bailey, and Jacob Lindgren all threw bullpen sessions this morning while the position players went through a usual day of hitting and fielding work. [Jennings]
  • Brendan Ryan (mid-back sprain) is feeling better but is still day-to-day and is only taking baby steps in workouts. He’s concerned about missing the start of the season. [Ryan Hatch]

Here’s the nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game against the Nationals will be replayed on both MLB Network (8pm ET) and YES (9pm ET), if you’re interested. The Nets are playing right now, both the Rangers and Devils are playing later tonight, and there’s one college basketball game on as well. You folks know what to do here, so have at it.

Spring Training Game Thread: Second Time Around


Now that we’re about a week into Spring Training games, the rotation has turned over and we’re getting to see guys for the second time. Adam Warren will make his second start of the spring — I assume he’ll work three innings or 45 pitches, that’s pretty standard for the second spring start — and both Andrew Miller and top pitching prospect Luis Severino will make their second Grapefruit League appearances.

The Nationals made the two-hour bus trip over from Melbourne and didn’t bring many regulars, predictably. In fact, they sent the minimum four big leaguers, and two of them (Kevin Frandsen and Jose Lobaton) are bench players. Impending free agents and possible future Yankees Ian Desmond and Doug Fister are the other two. The Yankees drafted Fister once upon a time (sixth round, 2005) and he’s super tall (6-foot-8 and 210 lbs.), so maybe the team will have interest in him as a free agent after the season.

Today’s reason to watch: Alex Rodriguez is playing his first game at third base — first since September 2013! — so we’ll get to see how (im)mobile he is at the hot corner. With no clear cut backup for Chase Headley, A-Rod‘s ability to play third on occasion is not insignificant. Also, Dellin Betances is making his Grapefruit League debut. And Severino will pitch too.

Here is this afternoon’s starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 3B Alex Rodriguez
  6. 1B Garrett Jones
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. 2B Jose Pirela
  9. SS Nick Noonan
    RHP Adam Warren

Available Pitchers: LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Luis Severino, RHP Wilking Rodriguez, LHP James Pazos, and RHP Jared Burton are all scheduled to pitch, apparently. RHP Diego Moreno, RHP Nick Goody, LHP Chasen Shreve, and RHP Chris Martin are the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Kyle Roller, 2B Cole Figueroa, SS Cito Culver, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Ben Gamel, CF Mason Williams, and RF Aaron Judge will be the second string off the bench. C Francisco Arcia, C Kyle Higashioka, C Trent Garrison, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Rob Refsnyder, OF Jake Cave, OF Ramon Flores, and OF Tyler Austin are all on the bench as well.

It’s a little cloudy in Tampa this afternoon but there’s no rain in the forecast. Temperatures in the mid-70s and not that much humidity by Florida standards. This afternoon’s game will begin shortly after 1pm ET and you can watch live on YES and MLB.tv (no blackouts). MLB Network will show the game on a tape delay later tonight (8pm ET). Enjoy.

Open Thread: March 7th Camp Notes


Thanks to a six-run ninth inning, the Yankees came back for a 9-4 win over the Astros in Kissimmee this afternoon. Ramon Flores (solo), Jake Cave (solo), and Greg Bird (two-run) all went deep and Rob Refsnyder singled in two runs. Didi Gregorius went 0-for-3, Stephen Drew went 0-got-2 with a walk, and both Chase Headley and Mark Teixeira went 1-for-3. Cave had two hits off the bench.

Veteran retread Scott Baker got lit up in his inning of work, allowing three runs on six hits. Jose DePaula threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in his spring debut, and Danny Burawa, Tyler Webb, Kyle Davies, Caleb Cotham, and Zach Nuding threw one shutout inning each. Nick Rumbelow allowed one run in his inning. Here’s the box score — no video highlights because the game wasn’t televised — and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • Masahiro Tanaka threw a two-inning, 29-pitch simulated game and everything went well. “He’s exactly where you want him to be at this point in Spring Training,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Tanaka’s next appearance will be in a real game, reportedly Thursday. [Bryan Hoch]
  • CC Sabathia will throw a two-inning simulated game tomorrow but it’s unclear when he will get into a spring game. Dellin Betances will make his spring debut tomorrow and Michael Pineda will make his on Monday. Nathan Eovaldi will follow Pineda in Monday’s game. [Brendan Kuty, Hoch]
  • Pineda, Esmil Rogers, and Chase Whitley all threw bullpen sessions. Otherwise it was a light workout day. The position players who played last night had the day off. [Chad Jennings]
  • Following last night’s spring debut, Carlos Beltran said his elbow feels fine and he doesn’t need any sort of brace or sleeve. “The good thing is I’m pain free,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not concerned at all … Now it’s just time to get the timing.” [Erik Boland, Jennings]
  • Joe Girardi said “it’s possible” Alex Rodriguez will play third base tomorrow. Brendan Ryan (mid-back sprain) remains day-to-day according to the skipper. Slade Heathcott was scratched from this afternoon’s game due to an illness. [Boland, Brendan Kuty, Hoch]
  • Waiting for the Opening Day starting pitcher announcement? Keep waiting. Girardi said he hasn’t made up his mind and wants to see how his pitchers look before making a decision. [Jennings]

Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is replaying this afternoons Nationals-Cardinals game, plus both the Knicks and Islanders are playing. And there’s some college hoops too. Talk about anything except religion and politics here.

Reports: Hector Olivera declared free agent, may or may not have a damaged UCL

Depending on who you ask, Cuban infielder Hector Olivera may have a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, meaning he faces season-ending Tommy John surgery. Jeff Passan says “serious concerns exist” among teams while Olivera’s camp told Jesse Sanchez their client is fine. “Photos don’t lie. They always tell the story,” said one team official to Sanchez, referring to an MRI.

Olivera, who turns 30 in April, was cleared to sign by MLB and the Office of Foreign Assets Control yesterday according to Sanchez, so he can sign at any time now. Passan says it is believed Olivera has at least one offer worth more than $50M in hand, though the injury will change everything, assuming it exists. Olivera is considered the best available Cuba player on the market now that Yoan Moncada has signed.

Back in January we heard the Yankees had “strong interest” in Olivera, who is considered a better player than recently signed outfielders Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. Assuming he’s healthy, of course. Here’s a quick scouting report from December, via Ben Badler:

At around 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Olivera is a physical righthanded hitter with a loose, quick swing and a good hitting approach. He showed good power for a middle infielder, and given that several Cuban players have transformed their bodies and increased their power since leaving the island, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Olivera did the same. His size, athleticism and plus speed (at least at his peak) made him one of the most well-rounded players in Cuba.

The elbow is not the only physical concern with Olivera. He missed the entire 2012-13 season in Cuba with a blood disorder and hasn’t participated in many international tournaments since then. Scouts simply haven’t seen a whole of him the last few years. (He has been holding showcase events in recent weeks, which is when the UCL injury apparently occurred.) Here are Olivera’s stats from Cuba, via Baseball Reference:

2003 Santiago de Cuba CNS 132 32 38 6 3 1 11 5 0 7 20 .319 .367 .445 .813
2004 Santiago de Cuba CNS 298 47 92 10 4 6 35 7 7 12 32 .326 .362 .454 .816
2005 Santiago de Cuba CNS 77 296 42 66 8 4 3 35 5 6 35 24 .262 .351 .361 .712
2006 Santiago de Cuba CNS 89 409 72 113 15 1 6 32 7 4 28 26 .315 .370 .412 .782
2007 Santiago de Cuba CNS 84 394 91 114 25 3 10 45 21 1 55 28 .353 .467 .542 1.009
2008 Santiago de Cuba CNS 84 398 84 115 23 5 16 71 8 3 55 24 .346 .444 .590 1.035
2009 Santiago de Cuba CNS 89 411 76 111 34 4 14 54 0 1 56 29 .322 .415 .565 .980
2010 Santiago de Cuba CNS 86 394 83 110 25 1 16 70 2 0 37 21 .318 .390 .535 .924
2011 Santiago de Cuba CNS 60 264 48 73 10 0 17 42 0 1 44 22 .341 .462 .626 1.088
2013 Santiago de Cuba CNS 73 273 44 72 11 2 7 38 0 0 38 25 .316 .412 .474 .885
10 Seasons 642 3269 619 904 167 27 96 433 55 23 367 251 .323 .407 .505 .912

Two years ago the Phillies agreed to a six-year, $48M contract with Cuban righty Miguel Gonzalez before cutting it down to a three-year, $12M deal after concerns about his shoulder popped up, so Olivera would not be the first Cuban free agent to deal with an injury before signing. Position players typically need six months to rehab from Tommy John surgery, which is half the usual timetable for pitchers but still season-ending.

Olivera is both a second and third baseman, and while the Yankees have Chase Headley for the hot corner, they do need a long-term second base solution. The elbow injury could be an opportunity for New York to grab Olivera on the cheap, though there’s a lot of risk involved because Tommy John surgery isn’t a sure thing. If nothing else, there’s no reason for the Yankees to not kick the tires and see if a discount is in the cards.

Open Thread: March 6th Camp Notes

Half the Yankees — less really, only four regulars made the trip — played a split squad game against the Phillies this afternoon and they walked away with a 4-1 win. Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, and Nick Noonan all had run-scoring doubles. Stephen Drew went 1-for-2, Chase Headley went 0-for-2 with a walk, and Mark Teixeira went 1-for-2. Slade Heathcott went 1-for-1 with two walks. It’s early but he’s having a nice camp so far.

Bryan Mitchell started and struck out two in two scoreless innings. He looked pretty sharp. Jaron Long and Nick Goody both threw scoreless innings and both Matt Tracy and Branden Pinder threw two scoreless innings each. The relief prospect formerly known as Mark Montgomery allowed the only run on a long homer by Xavier Paul. Here’s the box score and here are the video highlights. The Yankees play their other split squad game against the Pirates at 7pm ET. Here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

Here’s the daily open thread. There is no video broadcast of tonight’s home split squad game against the Pirates. You can listen to Pittsburgh’s radio broadcast on the MLB At-Bat app though. This afternoon’s game against the Phillies will re-air on MLB Network at 9pm ET, if you’re interested. Otherwise you’ve got the Devils, Nets, and college basketball tonight. Have at it.