Are the Houston Astros After Cole Hamels?


The Astros are in first place with a decent rotation lead by Dallas Keuchel with Collin McHugh and up-and-coming Lance McCullers Jr in tow. The other two rotation spots are iffy with Brett Oberholtzer and Roberto Hernandez while the Astros wait for Scott Feldman to return from the rotation from a torn meniscus. I have written several times about the Astros possibly going after Philidelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels. We also covered it in May with CTH’s “Let’s trade for a starter” series.

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Why bring it up again, because both

CBS Sports


released stories today talking about the possibilities of the Astros going after Hamels. They both cite some ways the Phillies and Astros can match up, but in the end, the ball is in the lefthanded hand of Hamels. Hamels has a no-trade clause to 20 MLB teams, and yes one of them is the Astros, who he can block a trade.

To get Hamels to waive his no-trade clause, the Astros might have to extend the current contract like I speculated earlier in the offseason. Hamels is currently scheduled for free agency after the 2018 season, so the Astros might have to sign him through 2020 to facilitate a deal. I wonder if he would just take a tractor, it worked for Roy Oswalt. He has a 20 million dollar team option for 2019 or a 24 million dollar vesting option if he meets the criteria listed below.

  1. Pitches 400 innings in the 2017-18 seasons, 200 innings pitched in 2018. (Baseball Reference)
  2. He is not on the disabled list with elbow or shoulder injury at the end of the 2018 season. (Baseball-Reference)

While what is being reported today could still be considered speculation, Jim Heyman was able to start to put together a possible trade with some inside information from both teams. Heyman mentions that the Astros might be leery of spending 24 million dollars a year on a single player, but the Phillies might be able to include some money to lower Hamels salary. Why would they want to pay off some of Hamels contract because they see some juicy prospects that they can get to expedite their timetable of being good again?

Here is the basic structure of the deal based on what Heyman wrote, he never specified a specific deal. Here is my trade idea from reading Heyman’s article here.

Players Phillies Covet

RHP – Mark Appel

OF – Brett Phillips

OF – Domingo Santana

and one or two of Max Stassi, Nolan Fontana, Colin Moran, and Teoscar Hernandez.

The Astros at this time appears to not be willing to trade Preston Tucker, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr, or Vincent Velasquez. I doubt that Jon Singleton gets dealt because the Astros can’t wait 2-3 months for Chris Carter every year to get hot. Mark Appel has had a down 2015-campaign, but may have reignited his trade value with his last game with the Hooks.

On Wednesday night, Appel pitched five innings only allowing one unearned run on two hits while striking out three. He was hitting 97 mph during that game, so maybe things are about to turn around for the former first round. McCullers and Michael Feliz have passed Appel in the Astros eyes, so a change of scenery could be needed for Appel.

Losing Brett Phillips will be the biggest loss, but the Astros outfield prospects are one of the Astros strengths. In my opinion, the Astros are also going to draft an outfielder in addition to the shortstop with the two early picks. Phillips has been great, and I hate to lose him, but Hamels could take the Astros to the next level of being playoff ready.

Players the Astros Covet

Cole Hamels



The Astros and Phillies have hooked up before on big trades, but this is the first time in a while that the Astros are looking to add and not sell. We recently witnessed Jeff Luhnow trade some of his precious talent in the Hank Conger and Evan Gattis trade. They lost Rio Ruiz, Michael Foltynewitz, Carlos Perez, Andrew Thurman, and Nick Tropeano.

The Astros know they don’t have a place for some of the upcoming talents that should be arriving this year, they can’t even find a way to get Jon Singleton on the major league roster. At the bloggers roundtable, Luhnow said one reason to accumulate minor league talent is to use them to upgrade the MLB roster. One thing the Astros need to do is to make sure you draft perfectly, because you can’t run out of talent like in the last years of Drayton McLane ownership.

Do the Astros need Hamels?

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Should the first round of the playoff series start tomorrow, Dallas Keuchel would start game one, maybe McCullers game two, and Collin McHugh game three. The Astros need a fourth starter, and what if the Astros shut down McCullers due to a

Stephen Strasburg

like innings limit? This hasn’t been discussed much by Astros fans yet, but McCullers may be pitching his way to an early ending season with that complete game effort the other day.

Insert Cole Hamels into the rotation, he would probably pitch as the second pitcher out of respect for what Keuchel has done with the Astros the past two seasons. The Astros could sandwich McCullers in between the two lefty starters as well.

With the addition of Cole Hamels, the Astros would be for sure a 100+ win team, and would be set up nicely for a playoff run with the front of the rotation pitching every fifth day. Whether the Astros trade for Hamels or not, there will be a trade for a starter. Will the Astros guarantee playoff success with this trade? No, but it would increase the odds.

Before you do a Randy Johnson trade comparison with this trade, let’s consider a few things. Hamels will not be a rental player for the rest of the year, and he could have the similar impact on the City of Houston like Johnson did during that playoff run. It will hurt, but we have the team to win big in October with one more ace.

Brett Phillips, if you are reading this, I don’t want to see you go, but sometimes you have to look to win today, figure out tomorrow later. I hope you are not involved in the trade buddy, good luck the rest of your season.

The other names can be found in our “let’s trade for a starter” week below. Keep up to date with the Astros trade deadline coverage at Climbing Tal’s Hill.

Part 1: Let’s Trade with the Oakland Athletics

Part 2: Let’s Trade with the Phillies

Part 3: Let’s Trade with the Reds

Part 4: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 2

Part 5: Let’s Trade with the Brewers

Part 6: Let’s Trade with the someone with Rasmus

Part 7: Let’s Trade with the White Sox

Part 8: Let’s Make no Trades

Part 9: Let’s Trade with the Phillies (Harang)

Part 10: “Let’s Make a Trade” Series Recap

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