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Contenders' interest in Hamels heating up

Trade target may be willing to waive no-trade clause

NEW YORK -- If a contending team needs a starting pitcher, bet the farm it has called the Phillies about Cole Hamels. He is very much available.

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Hamels is pitching Wednesday afternoon against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, so expect plenty of scouts in attendance. He missed Friday's start against the Cardinals because of tightness in his right hamstring, but he gave the thumbs up following a bullpen session Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

"There's been a lot of talk about him since the offseason: 'How many more starts does he have in a Philadelphia uniform?'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday night's game. "Nobody knows. I don't really get too caught up in it. Could he end up in our division? I guess. There are six divisions he could end up in, so I guess the chances are he could end up in ours. But I'm curious to see him pitch tomorrow." reported Tuesday that the Phillies and Rangers have had continuing talks about Hamels, although one source told that a Hamels trade with Texas is "not on the board."

Not yet anyway. Phillies scout Gordon Lakey was in Chicago last week scouting the Rangers-White Sox series.

Sources said that the Phillies and Rangers have been discussing Hamels since at least the offseason. The two teams actually have been talking for years about Phillies starting pitchers, including injured left-hander Cliff Lee.

The Phillies have been talking to other teams, too. That group includes the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros and more.

Hamels is 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA in 14 starts this season, and he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for years. His 3.17 ERA from 2008-15 ranks 10th out of 103 qualified pitchers. His 1.13 WHIP ranks eighth, and his 3.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio is ninth.

The Phillies hope Hamels can land them their greatest haul of prospects before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

There are obstacles. Hamels has a limited no-trade clause, and he can block trades to 20 teams. The Rangers and Yankees are not believed to be on that list, with The New York Post reporting that Hamels would waive his no-trade clause to join the Yanks. The Astros are also on the no-trade list, and KHOU-TV in Houston said Hamels has "blocked any possible trade" to Houston for now.

But more important than that, Hamels is making $22.5 million this season and is owed at least $73.5 million from 2016-19, which includes a $6 million buyout on a $20 million club option.

Phillies president Pat Gillick said Sunday the Phillies are willing to take on a portion of a player's salary to get the right players back in a trade.

But at the moment, teams have said that the Phillies are asking for too much, while the Phillies have privately said teams are not offering them much of anything. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

These things happen more than a month before the Trade Deadline. Quite often, once the Deadline gets closer, teams interested in making a deal come together to find one that works.

Nobody is there yet, but that time is expected to come.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Philadelphia Phillies, Cole Hamels