Thursday, May 24, 2018

SPECULATION: Why the New York Yankees Will NOT Acquire Cole Hamels Before the July 31st Trade Deadline



The New York Yankees fans have been clamoring for a month now for the team to acquire another starting pitcher for the stretch run. As silly as that sounds here at the end of May it is simply what we as Yankees fans have come to expect, and not only expect but demand as well. Yankees fans demand not only excellence, but borderline dominance and perfection as well which was never more evident than on Tuesday night when potential trade target Cole Hamels shut the powerful Yankees offense down in a victory for the Rangers. The discussions regarding Hamels and his potential acquisition by the Yankees were running rampant before the start, and since the discussions have only become more aggressive from the fan base. Unfortunately, I may have some bad news for everyone reading this as I do not believe it will be the New York Yankees who acquire the 34-year old veteran left-hander’s services before the July 31st trade deadline.

The New York Yankees have some wiggle room in terms of payroll flexibility while still maintaining a payroll that stays below the luxury tax threshold, but not as much as say a team like the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are a young and exciting team that are drawing comparisons to the 2017 version of the Baby Bombers. Young and hungry can only take a team so far, though, and the team has obvious holes and needs in their pitching staff. The Yankees and the Braves may be preparing to go head-to-head in a bidding war for Cole’s services, and that is a bidding war that Brian Cashman may not want to get into.

The Braves have a lot more money to spend this season and next than the New York Yankees do, and they have a better farm system as well. The Braves have arguably the best farm system in all of Major League Baseball, but they have something else that may put them ahead of the Yankees in the potential Hamels sweepstakes. The Braves have a GM who is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big deal, top prospects being involved or not. Cashman, and I personally love him for it, has shown a huge reluctance to deal top prospects and the type of prospects that the Rangers would likely demand if a bidding war were to ensue.

It wouldn’t take Gleyber Torres or Justus Sheffield to acquire Hamels, presumably a true rental for the Yankees unless they fancy picking up his huge option for the 2019 season, but it would likely require Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, Estevan Florial, Domingo Acevedo or an equivalent prospect or two in order to bring the lefty to the Bronx. Would Cashman be willing to part with any of them? That’s a tricky question and a question that history would say “no” to, but we know that the Braves would pull the trigger in a heartbeat including any of their top prospects not named Albies or Acuna.

Also, you have to keep in mind that Hamels is 34-years old, soon to be 35. Hamels has one-year left on his deal past the 2018 season, a team option that can be bough out for $6 million. All signs and speculation point to, assuming he was acquired by New York, the Yankees buying out his deal for the 2019 season and giving him his $6 million along with his walking papers next season. The Braves, on the other hand, would likely keep Hamels next season with the hopes of either competing, or with the hopes of getting some prospects back in another July 31st trade if the team cannot replicate their early success from this season to next season. Hamels has a no-trade clause, albeit limited, and will likely weigh all options when being asked to waive it. You have to think at his age his security and future are far more important than chasing a title, especially when he already has a World Series ring under his belt.

Many believe it is a foregone conclusion that Cole Hamels will be the 2018 version of Sonny Gray who was acquired by the Yankees at the 2017 deadline, but I am not so sure. Obviously, the Yankees could pick up Hamels option for the 2019 season and allow him to replace CC Sabathia in the rotation, but that is a huge “if” for Hamels who controls his destiny. The allure of pitching in the Bronx may be a big factor for the left-hander, but the possibility of entering a pitching free agent market beside potential free agents like Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel at age 35 may trump that. Pitching for Atlanta, a National League team with much fewer eyes on the veteran lefty, may make more sense not only for the Braves, but for the future of Hamels as well.

There is a lot that can happen between July 31st and now, and truth be told this is all speculation anyway, but right now I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves came in and swooped up Hamels before the Yankees could make a deal. A more laid-back atmosphere, “easier” lineups to face, security for the 2019 season, and a young and hungry team with an aggressive GM may be too much for even Brian Cashman to compete with, but then again, they don’t call him the “Ninja” for nothing.

Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment