February 18, 2015

A blockbuster #Phillies - #Dodgers trade possibility for Cole Hamels

It's no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro are in rebuild mode.

Cole Hamels
It's also no secret that the most valuable "chip" Amaro has for rebuilding is lefty ace Cole Hamels. Trade rumors and speculation have been swirling around Hamels for some time, to the point that, in addition to wanting to be on a winning team, I think he's this eager to be traded just to quiet the noise.

But, for whom, and why?

A lot of fans have been throwing out ridiculous ideas, fans of other teams hoping that Amaro is even more of an idiot than stereotypes about things like the Ryan Howard contract have made him out to be.

But, Amaro moved Jimmy Rollins for a decent return in minor leaguers Zach Eflin and Tom Windle, so, let me suggest he's not that much an idiot, fans of other teams.

And, let me then suggest a blockbuster trade, which would also involve the Phils' second biggest chip, closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Zach Greinke
L.A. Dodgers righty (fixed) ace Zack Greinke’s a pretty darned close comp to Hamels. Hamels is a skoosh or two better in FIP, WAA, etc.; they're almost the exact same on innings thrown. And, of course, both are lefties.

There are some financial differences, though, which is why this isn't a totally dumb idea.

The biggie, of course, is that Greinke can opt out of his contract after this year. Even if he doesn’t opt out after this year, he’s got one less contract year than Hamels, without even counting Hamels’ option or vesting. And, it's only $1 million a year more than Hamels has, and with no option or vesting year afterward.

So, Amaro would save a minimum of $20 million, and, assuming Hamels' contract has its vesting year work, a medium level of $44 million. If Greinke opts out, then, of course, Amaro saves $75 million. No, he doesn't get a return player back for more than one year in that case, but, he gets to take a big salary dump. Maybe a second-tier prospect, like Dodgers fans have been stupidly suggesting would be a big part of the trade, helps that out.

Why would Greinke not block this, though?

Er, because he doesn't have a no-trade clause in his contract, that's why.

There, that takes care of that part of the trade.

Meanwhile, Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen has a foot injury, and will miss the first month or so of the season. But, closers are generally overvalued, and if you're Amaro and rebuilding, you don't need a closer that's high dollars anyway. So, Jansen plus maybe some other second-tier prospect gets you Papelbon as part of the same trade. Jansen’s got one arb year left, whereas Papelbon has an option that will almost certainly vest. And, Papelbon's contract for this year is well more than Jansen's.

That will save Amaro $6M plus wherever Janson's 2016 arbitration comes in below $13M.

So, Greinke, Jansen and one or two second-tier prospects for Hamels and Papelbon.

Well, no, let's fine tune this based on what happens with Greinke.

The four major-leaguers plus just one second-tier prospect — for now.

In 2016, if Greinke opts out, the Phillies agree to eat part of Hamels 2016-18 salary and in exchange, the Dodgers send two more prospects their way.

So, what do the Dodgers get from it?

Several things.

1. No worrying about a Greinke opt-out.
2. Related to that, a bit of financial savings, in the longer term if Greinke did opt out and they decided to bay the additional freight.
3. An moderate-decent upgrade at their No. 2 starter for less money. While Greinke's not bad, Hamels is still the better pitcher by most sabermetric measurements.
4. A little bit of an upgrade at closer.

Or, a variant on this, which wouldn't save Amaro money from a Greinke opt-out, but would give him more than just a prospect, and would leave the Dodgers with an even stronger rotation?

Hyun-jin Riu
The Angelinos offer Hyun-jin Ryu instead of Greinke, and no prospects.

Ryu isn't in Greinke's league, let alone Hamels, but he could be a No. 2 starter on many a team, including Philly. His contract lasts as long as Hamels' does, not counting Hamels' option/vesting year. And, it's less than $8M a year for its duration.

Now, Ryu had some minor, nagging injury problems, so it might be a bit of a gamble on Amaro's part, but I don't think it would be too much gamble.

And, no, this isn't just snark on stupid non-Phillies fans getting incredibly greedy, although it is a part a troll of them. I think one or the other of these two ideas is a legitimate trade deal, trading contracts as well as players. Philly fans, and Amaro, you can thank me later.

Dodgers fans, it doesn't have as much "net" return as you'd like, but with new team president Andrew Friedman already indicating he'd like to do some budget management as well as continue to improve the team, could well appeal to him, especially given that, per Cot's Contracts, the Dodgers are already WAY over the lux tax at $265M for this year.

Per Fangraphs, as a third-time (in a row) offender, since they went over last year, they'll pay a ding of 40 percent of whatever they finish the year at above $189M. Now, the team knows that it likely won't get below $189M for 2016, but I'm sure it would like to go lower than now if possible, since, assuming they don't do massive cuts next year, they'll pay 50 percent of anything over $189M in 2016.

Back to trolling fans of one certain team proposing dumb trade materials for the Phillies. This is a serious reason why Friedman wouldn't make a trade for Hamels unless he could dump some salary back. The Dodgers are, by number of repeat years as taxbreakers, in Yankee territory, and by the percentage by which they're breaking the threshold, beyond even the pinstripes. Friedman ain't adding to that.

Yes, you read that right. By Opening Day numbers, the 2014 Dodgers went where the New York Yankees have never, ever gone. And, this year is worse.

That said, contra current rules, I think part of lux tax dings, say 25 percent, should go to revenue sharing.


Blake Jones said...

Of course, Greinke is not a lefty.

Gadfly said...

Fixed the "lefty" brain fart.

And, no, it's not likely as a trade. But, it's more likely than the Phillies making a trade for the junk prospects that a lot of Dodgers fans have proposed.

As I noted, this post is part serious. But it's also partly a troll on those Dodgers fans (and Sawks fans of similar mindset).