The flirtation continues.
The Boston Red Sox, who have long been linked to Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels, were represented Sunday at the left-hander’s start against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, according to multiple reports.
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported early in the afternoon that the Red Sox had a “high-ranking scout” on hand for Hamels’ start. Crasnick’s ESPN.com colleague, Gordon Edes, later reported that Red Sox vice president Allard Baird — described by Edes as one of general manager Ben Cherington’s “top lieutenants” — made the trip to Philadelphia.
The Phillies have heavily scouted the Red Sox system, according to Edes. Hamels has been viewed as a potential trade target since even before Boston lost out on Jon Lester, who signed with the Chicago Cubs over the offseason after being traded away by the Red Sox at last year’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline. Hamels would fill Boston’s need for a legitimate No. 1 starter.
The Phillies are the worst team in baseball. It makes little sense for them to keep Hamels, who turns 32 in December, amid their rebuild. A trade would help replenish Philadelphia’s farm system and give the Phillies some financial relief. Hamels is owed $67.5 million ($22.5 million annually) over the next three seasons. He comes with a $20 million club option or a $24 million vesting option for 2019.
The Red Sox, who entered Sunday seven games under .500 (42-49) and 7 1/2 games back in the American League East, have given little indication as to whether they’ll be buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Hamels isn’t just a rental, though, so he’d fit into Boston’s plans regardless.
The biggest question, of course, is whether the Red Sox and Phillies can match up on a deal. Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart were believed to be among those who Philadelphia desired, yet Boston has been reluctant to part ways with either of those players. Betts, in particular, already has shined in the majors.
It might not deter the Red Sox from considering a trade, but Hamels struggled Sunday. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits over three innings, marking his second consecutive poor performance.
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