Cole Hamels is staying with the Phillies after signing a six-year, $144 million contract extension. Our experts weigh in on Hamels as well as two trade-related items.
1. True or false: Re-signing Hamels at the going rate is the right move for the Phillies.
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn), ESPN Fantasy: True. The Phillies are doing the right thing in keeping Hamels, although he is expensive and signing any pitcher for that many years is awfully dangerous. Perhaps Cliff Lee is trade fodder now; perhaps he's not. Regardless, people are too quick to presume that Philly's window for future seasons has closed. It's not like it's been years since contention. They won 102 games last year. A healthy Hamels, Lee and Roy Halladay would make up for plenty of other potential weaknesses in 2013.
Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley), Crashburn Alley: True. Unlike many of the other players the Phillies have signed to lengthy, expensive contracts in recent years, Hamels is young and has plenty of good years ahead of him. This is something they should have taken care of during the offseason or even during the 2011 season, so they're in a bit of a bind going into the trade deadline. Without Hamels, the Phillies would have been looking at a rotation that includes two aging aces in Halladay and Lee.
Chad Dotson (@redlegnation), Redleg Nation: False. Hamels is terrific (and largely underrated), and he's only 28. If the fading and aging Phils want to start over and build around him, signing Hamels makes some sense. As it stands, however, they have $100-plus million wrapped up in just six guys for next season. With all the holes they have to fill, I'm not sure how Hamels fits.
2. One team that should be going all in for 2012 is the __________.
Karabell: The White Sox need to regroup after the weekend sweep to the Tigers and continue going for it. The Sox already picked up Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers, but who knows when Chris Sale will perform this well again, or Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios? Add a starting pitcher, get middle-infield upgrades, do what it takes and at least beat out the non-Yankees AL East teams for a wild-card berth.
Baer: The Rangers. Not that they won't be competitive in future years, but 2012 is their best shot percentage-wise. Josh Hamilton also will hit free agency after the season, and their best hitters are all in their 30s (Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz) with some degree of an injury history. As the Phillies have shown, there are no guarantees in baseball, so the Rangers should keep that in mind.
Dotson: Cincinnati. The Reds are sitting pretty right now. Their closest competition in the National League Central is the Pirates, who are going to start fading any day now. (Right?) Last year's division champs (Milwaukee) and world champs (St. Louis) can't get any traction. Meanwhile, the Reds keep winning games, even with Joey Votto on the DL. The NL is more wide-open than it has been in years. Cincinnati is in a good position to take advantage.
3. What's one trade you'd like to see that makes sense for both sides?
Karabell: Now that Hamels is off the block, the Texas Rangers have to work a bit harder to acquire rotation help, but dangling third baseman Mike Olt to Milwaukee for Zack Greinke makes sense. The Rangers lost Colby Lewis, and who knows how many starts Roy Oswalt will be able to make? Olt is clearly blocked by Adrian Beltre. The Brewers have Aramis Ramirez at third base, but it's time to move him across the diamond to first base, where he is less of a liability, or simply to the American League. Don't be surprised if the Marlins make this offer to Texas with Josh Johnson, too. Miami has no third baseman as well, and after the Hanley Ramirez trade, it's clear that the Marlins are selling everyone now.
Baer: Any team with a need for a third baseman and the Padres coming together for a Chase Headley deal. The Padres would get a handful of quality prospects at the peak of Headley's value, as he has two more arbitration-eligible years before hitting free agency. The team acquiring Headley would get a 28-year-old quality third baseman, something very, very hard to come across these days. What's great about Headley is that he has value to both contending teams (like the Pirates) and teams presumably out of the race (like the Phillies).
Dotson: The Rays sending James Shields to the Angels in exchange for a package that includes Peter Bourjos would make a lot of sense for both clubs. The Angels are trying desperately to keep up with Texas, and Shields can help. Meanwhile, the Rays seem intent on letting B.J. Upton walk after this season, and the 25 year-old Bourjos fits the Tampa profile (young, cheap and talented).