We learned yesterday that Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels was claimed off revocable waivers by an unidentified team. We now know the identity of that team.
As first reported by Mike Missanelli of ESPN 97.5 in Philadelphia and confirmed by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs were the team who made the claim. The Phillies can now simply pull Hamels back and keep him, give him (and the $100+ million remaining on his contract) away for nothing, or attempt to work out a trade with the Cubs within 48 hours. However, it’s seen as very unlikely that the two sides will agree to a trade.
Wittenmyer was told by a major league source that the Phillies want one of the Cubs’ prized shortstops in a deal for Hamels. Starlin Castro and Javier Baez would have to pass through revocable waivers to be dealt since they are currently on the 40-man roster, so Wittenmyer speculates that Addison Russell would be the centerpiece of a deal. That’s an understandable demand on the part of the Phillies, but the Cubs would likely prefer to sign a top pitcher in free agency rather than give up top prospects for an ace and still have to pay them huge money. On the flip side, the Phillies would surely prefer to shop Hamels to all 29 teams as opposed to just one.
It’s an interesting scenario to contemplate and it never hurts to talk, but look for Hamels to finish this season in a Phillies uniform.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.