Blake Swihart

So, evidently Phillies really want Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart

Rob Bradford
February 11, 2015 - 4:53 am

A source told's Ken Rosenthal that the Phillies preference is to strike a deal with the Red Sox in which they would send Cole Hamels to Boston for a package that would include Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart. (To read entire story, click here.) That is not, however, the Red Sox' preference. And it shouldn't be. The conversation in the article was born from Rosenthal reporting the Padres made a hard push for Hamels before signing James Shields. That move, obviously, took one potential landing spot for the Phillies' lefty off the market. It also, evidently, pushed the Red Sox up the list of teams that might be a fit for a Hamels deal. A few weeks ago, a source told that the Phillies have been "unrealistic in their expectations" when it comes to the asking price for Hamels. Totally understandable. With four guaranteed years left on the lefty's deal -- (with a fifth-year option he would surely make the Red Sox pick up considering they're on his no-trade list) -- Philly GM Ruben Amaro has to make this a no-doubter. That's why he's asking for a package that would have to include Betts or Swihart. By most accounts, they are no-doubt type of pieces. (As much as prospects can offer such a tag.) Yes, the Red Sox would seem to need a proven top-of-the-rotation guy like Hamels. That's why there has been interest. A five-year, $110 million commitment to a pitcher of the lefty's ilk would seem to be palatable while they figure out the rest of the rotation. But a big part of team-building is deciphering the most difficult positions to lock in and prioritizing those players that can fill any such voids. Betts would not only seem to be a productive outfielder, both offensively and defensively, but also has the potential to own the Red Sox' leadoff spot for years to come. It's the type of skill-set that would be tremendously expensive to find via trade or free agency going forward. They just paid $72.5 million for Rusney Castillo to offer similar attributes, although most in the organization would identify Betts as a better fit in the leadoff spot. As for Swihart, perhaps one of the most difficult things to uncover in baseball these days is a catcher who can evolve into a middle of the order presence while excelling defensively. That's the way the switch-hitting 22-year-old is trending. It used to be that top of the rotation pitching was the most difficult thing for an organization to find. Not anymore. That's why the Red Sox were so proactive in their pursuit of bats, not only with Castillo but also by inking Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to long-term deals. Hamels would undoubtedly be the best pitcher on the Red Sox pitching staff right now if acquired. And that's a title the 31-year-old might very well hold for the next three seasons. But the reality is that there are potentially other options for the Red Sox to unearth their ace (including the possibility of trading for Hamels down the road at a less painful price). If Amaro's demands thin out and a package is highlighted by one of the Red Sox' top pitching prospects, the conversation should change. For now, however, the Red Sox should be stiff-arming the Phillies when it comes to these two guys. You also can't blame Amaro for asking.