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Diamondbacks Trade Rumor Round-up: Cole Hamels? Really?

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A couple of dominoes dropped over the weekend. Will that cause others to fall?

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Johnny Cueto, a man who destroyed the Diamondbacks in his major-league debut, will be less of a threat - at least for a bit - since he is now in the American League, having been traded to the Kansas City Royals for a trio of left-handed pitchers. The general reaction seems to be that the Reds did pretty well, considering Cueto will be a free-agent at the end of this season; given their position in the standings, he clearly wasn't going to help them too much. It certainly should help shore up the Royals' rotation, which has been an obvious area of concern.

Speculation has now turned to Cole Hamels, who did his trade stock no disservice at all, by no-hitting the Cubs (for the first time in virtually forever!) in his last outing. Currently, word has the Dodgers (ugh) and Rangers as the leading candidates to acquire Hamels from the Phillies, but there is no shortage of suitors, with others including the Cubs, Giants and Yankees also in the mix. The cost for Hamels will likely be significantly higher, since he is signed at least through the end of 2018 (there's a vesting option for 2019), though is not cheap, being paid $23.5 million for each of those seasons.

It looks like the Padres - now 7.5 games back of even the second wild-card spot - have abandoned hope for the year, and are looking to shift players, including some of the pieces acquired during their spectacular (but it now appears, failed) off-season effort to become relevant. Jon Heyman writes, "pitchers James Shields and Andrew Cashner as well as reliever Craig Kimbrel are being mentioned prominently in trade talks", and San Diego also has a slew of impending free-agents, including Justin Upton, Will Venable and Ian Kennedy, who could be available, with the team trying to cut payroll now the season is lost.

Nothing much to report on the Diamondbacks' front, although ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says the D-backs have been "getting lots of calls on Brad Ziegler", but have been "telling teams they'd have to be "overwhelmed'' to move him." Ziegler has a team option at $5.5 million for next year, and the above would seem to indicate Arizona is likely to exercise that. This, in turn, seems to indicate Tony La Russa and his team think the Diamondbacks can improve enough for 2016 to be a contender. Right now, they are on pace for a win tally in the mid- to high-70's, and would need to find a further ten or more wins next year for true playoff hopes.

It's interesting to speculate on what Ziegler's role might be then. He has certainly be excellent as a closer since taking over from Addison Reed, but there's a school of thought which says he's more useful as a free-range reliever, putting out fires as and when, rather than nailed into the ninth inning. The team does have a number of alternatives for closer, how many depending also on whether or not Daniel Hudson is seen as ever returning to the rotation. David Hernandez, Enrique Burgos and, perhaps - I'll pause for you to shudder - even Addison Reed, who has a 1.93 ERA for Reno since his demotion.

Update. And, of course, in the couple of hours between me writing this original piece, and its scheduled appearance, it appears the Diamondbacks are now also in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes.

This would make sense, given the extremely long degree of team control for Hamels, fitting in to the team's expressed (and sensible) desire to get a "rental" pitcher. But one wonders what the price might be for Hamels: it's bound to be steep. MLB Trade Rumors writes: "It would obviously be foolish to speculate as to what the club might be willing to offer, or what the Phillies might hypothetically look to bring back, but Arizona possesses sufficiently intriguing players to make a match seem plausible." The piece also notes Hamels had a no-trade list including Arizona, so he could, if he wanted, block a trade here. Anyone remember the Upton to Seattle deal?