Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has reported that the Yankees rejected a trade proposal from the Phillies that would have sent ace Cole Hamels to New York in exchange for a return that would have involved either top pitching prospect Luis Severino or top hitting prospect Aaron Judge. In addition, Heyman says that the Yankees have informed other clubs that they are unwilling to move Severino, Judge, first base prospect Greg Bird, or speedy shortstop Jorge Mateo. High-quality prospects are almost surely required to obtain Hamels, and if the Yankees are truly unwilling to part with the aforementioned players, it would seem that they might be out of the running to snare the Philadelphia ace. Other teams supposedly in the hunt for Hamels include the Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, and perhaps even the floundering Red Sox. The Dodgers and Cubs would use Hamels to boost their chances for a championship run this year, while the Rangers and Red Sox would be looking towards 2016.
yanks decline request of severino or judge for hamels; texas and dodgersremain more likely there. http://t.co/vfJ90fQ3Bj— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2015
yanks have 4 untouchables on prospect list: severino, judge, bird, mateo— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2015
While Hamels is undoubtedly a great pitcher (3.64 ERA in 128.2 innings that's partly the result of a poor Philadelphia defense) with a long track record of success that now includes yesterday's no-hitter, the Yankees don't have a pressing need to upgrade their starting rotation with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda staying healthy, and Nathan Eovaldi markedly improving over his last few outings. CC Sabathia has been inconsistent at best, but the Yankees may have a hard time clearing the mental hurdle of placing their former ace in the bullpen. Hamels is also owed $22.5 million every year until the end of 2018, and his contract includes a vesting option for 2019. For a pitcher of his caliber that's relatively cheap, but he's also on the wrong side of 30, and the Yankees are understandably wary of taking on money for aging pitchers.
What's interesting here is their supposed unwillingness to move those four prospects. New York has gained a reputation for selling off young talent, but Brian Cashman brought in a number of players last year through mid-season trades without surrendering premium talent. The Yankees seem to want to build internally, and it's a welcome change of pace as long as it doesn't come at the cost of turning down a good bargain. The fewer albatross contracts, the better. Of course, the supposed "untouchable" list could also be a bargaining tactic to make teams fork over more for those prospects. We'll see if those four players are still in the organization come August 1st.
Nicolas Stellini is a staff writer at Pinstripe Alley, where he writes about the Yankees and covers the Double-A Trenton Thunder. His national coverage can be found at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.