SAN DIEGO -- The talk at the winter meetings so far has been that as Jon Lester waits to decide where he’ll pitch, everybody else -- especially the other free-agent pitchers -- waits with him.
One agent who represents one of those pitchers and knows Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman well predicted that the Dodgers’ Plan B now that Lester chose the Chicago Cubs will be to make an aggressive push to acquire Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies.
That might not prove as complicated as other trade possibilities.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday that the Dodgers are looking at “several different options,” including free agents and trade possibilities, to fill the void in their rotation left by Josh Beckett’s retirement.
“This isn’t a true market with buyers and sellers,” Zaidi said. “A lot of teams are playing the middle right now.”
That means many of the trade discussions the Dodgers have had involve not one team, but at least two, as teams try to line up positions of need. Three-team trades can take far longer to consummate than simple one-to-one swaps.
But the Phillies might actually prove to be as close to an actual seller as there is, considering they lost 89 games last season with an aging roster and plenty of bad contracts. Hamels, whose nickname is “Hollywood,” has four years and $100 million left on his contract. The Dodgers also would like to add a veteran shortstop until Corey Seager is ready to play every day, and the Phillies have Jimmy Rollins, who will be making $11 million in the final year of his deal next season.
Some people inside baseball feel the Phillies and Dodgers could, eventually, line up on a trade. The Phillies, of course, would be looking for good, cost-controllable, young players in return. Reports surfaced Tuesday that the Dodgers would be willing to trade second baseman Dee Gordon. One scout wondered whether a package of Gordon, top center-field prospect Joc Pederson and another young player might be a good start to open a discussion with Philadelphia for the two veterans. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley could be in his final season next year.
One demand that likely would kill any talks with Philadelphia is for Pederson, pitcher Julio Urias and Seager, the Dodgers' three top prospects. A report surfaced that the Phillies initially asked for those three players to move Hamels.
The Dodgers jealously guarded their three premium prospects at last season’s July trade deadline, but that was under Ned Colletti’s front-office regime. Under Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi, prospects might not be so impossible to pry away from the Dodgers in the right deal. Zaidi said he has gotten inquiries about Pederson from other teams.
“I can’t speak to how willing they were at the trade deadline, but we would be willing to in the right deal, sure,” Zaidi said. “That’s the simple answer.”