Cole Hamels: The lone star on top of the trade tree


The Texas Rangers are interested in landing Cole Hamels. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Everyone wants to talk about Cole Hamels, and the Texas Rangers are doing more than just talking about him. They sent long-time scout Don Welke to Colorado over the weekend to watch Hamels make his start against the Rockies.

The result of which would make any scout, Welke included, head back to their respective ownership groups with a resounding “go get that guy.”

If the Rangers didn’t have a need in the starting rotation, they wouldn’t be putting a lot of time, effort and resources into scouting him. Say what you want about “they’re doing their due diligence,” this is a completely different scenario than just watching a certain player because you might have interest in him.

Where it stands at this moment, Hamels is at the top of the Rangers wish list. He is option A, B, C, D and ever other letter in the alphabet.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue to say it until I’m blue in the face: Where the Rangers stand right now, they aren’t good enough to win the World Series. I’ll even go one step further: I don’t think they’re good enough to even get there.

Let’s assume for a minute the Rangers ended the season as the AL West champions, and they head to the first round of the playoffs with Matt Harrison at the top of the playoff rotation followed by Colby Lewis and then Yu Darvish.

Put those three up against the likes of what the Chicago White Sox can run out, or maybe even the Rays, who Texas has faced in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two years. Do you really think this team can win two out of three?

I don’t believe they can, and I think the Rangers know that as well. They know what kind of return the Phillies will want for Hamels. If they didn’t think this team needed that kind of shot in the arm, why waste time sending scouts to each of his starts?

Again, let’s not go with the “due diligence” argument. I think this scenario is well past scouting him just because they can and should.

There isn’t one Rangers fan who will argue this particular left-hander doesn’t make this team better. They also won’t argue that bringing in a guy like Hamels almost immediately puts this team in the driver’s seat, not only in the AL West but also for the American League as a whole.

That’s what kind of impact a guy like this can make on a team like the Texas Rangers and the front office knows it.

The biggest question: What is this team is willing to give up to get a deal done before the July 31 deadline? Most will assume, and correctly so, Texas needs to put Mike Olt, one of the best prospects in the Texas farm system, in the deal, but they’ll have to go well beyond him.

There is still the question of whether or not the Philadelphia Phillies will be able to work out a long-term deal for their young pitcher before they have to put the “For Sale” sign up on his locker. According to some reports floating around, the deal could be in the neighborhood of six-years and anywhere between $22 million and $26 million per season. A handsome offer if the Phillies decide to put it on the table.

Hamels himself has been quoted as saying he’d want to sign back with the Phillies even if he’s traded.

However, you put a guy like that on a team like the Texas Rangers, and I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t change his mind on where he wants to spend the next few years of his career. Are the Phillies really that close to winning anything? Sure, Hamels already has a World Series championship in his back pocket, but I don’t see how the Phillies could be closer to winning another championship than the Rangers are to winning their first.

There’s no question comfort level will play a factor on whether or not the left-hander will want to be back with players he’s familiar with; it might all depend on how the rest of this season plays out.

With just over two weeks to go before the trade deadline expires, the answer on Hamels could come over the next 48 to 72 hours. If he decides to sign the offer put in front of him from Philadelphia, the answer to our question, as to where the young man wants to be, will have been answered.

One might wonder why he wouldn’t want to test free agency for the first time in his career, if only for the experience of being wanted by multiple teams. But, for some players, it isn’t about seeing what your worth is on the open market. It might only be about being wanted by the team they are currently on.

Where Hamels himself stands is yet to be seen. The Rangers are patiently waiting just like everyone else.

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