Now that the Kansas City Royals have acquired Johnny Cueto, others teams looking to trade for an elite starter have fewer options from which to choose.
But they still have options – namely, David Price and Cole Hamels.
Price is 9-3 with a 2.31 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 140 innings for a Tigers squad (48-50) struggling to stay relevant in the AL Central. Hamels, meanwhile, is 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 137 strikeouts in 128 and 2/3 innings for a Phillies squad (37-63) with the worst record in baseball. Hamels’ trade value is especially high, as he threw a no-hitter in Saturday’s 5-0 win over the Cubs in Chicago.
Is there a team that should definitely be making a play for one of these guys?
“Well, I don’t advise teams to chase after a Wild Card these days because you have to win that one-game playoff, but the Blue Jays now have the longest playoff drought in the majors,” FOX Sports MLB insider Rob Neyer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This is Canada’s team. There’s really no excuse for them not to be competitive every year, and right now they’re barely at .500. They’re .500 on the nose, and I think that they’re good enough to win a Wild Card. They have the talent. Their run differential is excellent. The last time I checked it was the best in the whole league.”
Indeed, it is. The Blue Jays (50-50) have a run differential of plus-95, which is second only to the Cardinals (plus-107) in all of baseball. Toronto is 6.5 games behind the Yankees (55-42) in the AL East but just three games behind the Twins (52-46) in the Wild Card.
“I think if there were ever a year for them to go for it – or for a Wild Card, anyway – this is that year,” Neyer said. “Certainly a David Price would look great.”
So would Hamels, depending on what a team is looking for. Hamels, 31, is under contract through 2018, while Price, 29, could wind up just being a rental.
“It’s so fascinating because these guys are such opposites,” Neyer said. “Obviously it’s a huge long-term commitment, and Hamels has a no-trade clause, so who knows if he would even go to Toronto. But I think that the Blue Jays have to pick up a starter, whether it’s one of those guys or James Shields or somebody else.”
The Blue Jays, of course, aren’t the only team looking to add a starter.
“There are other teams,” Neyer said. “Obviously the Cubs could use a starting pitcher. Long-term might could be good for them because they’re in this thing not just for this season but for awhile.”
The Cubs (51-46) are 11.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central but just 2.5 games back of the Giants (54-44) in the Wild Card. Chicago hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2009, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2003.