On the Report of the Phillies Asking Price for Cole Hamels

With the trade deadline 48 hours away, the Phillies have apparently made Cole Hamels available in trade talks. This is good news for Phillies fans, as Hamels will likely never have more value than he does right now. However, if Bob Nightengale’s sources are correct, the Phillies asking price for Hamels is insane.

Yet, according to one-ranking official directly involved with the talks, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels. They were told the price would be three of their top prospects – center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.

On their midseason Top 50, Baseball America ranked Urias as the #13 prospect in baseball, with Seager at #16 and Pederson at #18. MLB.com had them in the same basic area, with Seager at #17, Urias at #18, and Pederson at #19. Here, Marc Hulet had Seager at #6, Pederson at #18, and Urias as having “just missed” the top 25.

Needless to say, the consensus is that these are three of the ~20 or so best prospects in baseball. As Jeff Sullivan wrote yesterday, the more recent estimates of the value of prospects in this range is something like $30 to $40 million. Each. In other words, if all three were made free agents tomorrow, the estimates are that teams would spend something in that range to sign those guys, and when you look at what the unrestricted international free agents have signed for lately — $42 million for Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu, $68 million for Jose Abreu, $30 million for Aroldis Chapman — there’s plenty of evidence to support the claims, and they might even be on the low side.

But, just for fun, let’s say that each of the Dodgers’ prospects is worth something like $30 million. To receive all three, the Phillies would have to give up about $90 million in surplus value. As I noted in last week’s piece, Hamels has about $5 million in surplus value in his future contract, not counting the remainder of his 2014 production. Even if you get very aggressive with the value of a win down the stretch, you probably can’t justify more than $15 or $20 million in 2014 value for Hamels.

But, hey, let’s give him $20 million in surplus value for the rest of the year, just for fun. Wins are insanely valuable to contenders right now, and teams pay premiums to add pitching this time of year. And a team acquiring him should expect to get to the postseason, so they’re not just paying for the 11 or 12 regular season starts he has left, but that additional postseason boost as well.

But even with that accounted for, Hamels total surplus value still doesn’t even match up to the conservative estimate of the surplus value of one of the three Dodgers prospects.

To ask for all three and not think they are going to get laughed at, the Phillies would have to be selling a genetic clone of Mike Trout or something. The Phillies would do well to land one top 20 prospect for Hamels. Demanding three of them is just being ridiculous.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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