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Cole feat: No-hit performance will increase Hamels’ trade value; will Cubs bite?

BY SETH GRUEN

For the Sun-Times

As far as auditions go, Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels likely left the pitching-hungry Cubs’ front office convinced that he could fill a leading role in the rotation.

With Hamels’ no-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field it gave more credence to the idea that the Cubs should consider parting with some of their prospects in order to acquire the left-hander.

Only Hamels wouldn’t say whether he wants to return to Wrigley for an encore performance.

“That’s kind of tough to really answer because right now I’m wearing the Phillies’ red and that’s where I’ve planned to play,” said Hamels, who missed a perfect game by walking Dexter Fowler twice. “So I think that’s kind of all I can really do. It’s out of my control.”

The Phillies have reportedly been shopping Hamels, whose contract runs through 2018 with a team option for 2019, for several weeks.

The Cubs along with the Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees and Giants have been reported as having interest in Hamels.

While Hamels is drawing interest from the Cubs, he couldn’t help but compliment the team’s budding core, calling them “young superstars.”

One of those young players, third baseman Kris Bryant, nearly ended his no-hitter in the ninth.

With two outs, Bryant smashed a ball to center field which Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera overran but was able to recover and lunge forward to make the diving catch at the warning track.

It was the first time the Cubs were no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them on Sept. 9, 1965 at Dodger Stadium.

The last player to throw a no-hitter at Wrigley was the Reds’ Jim Maloney on Aug. 19, 1965.

Hamels snapped the Cubs’ major-league record of 7,920 consecutive games without being no-hit.

But it’s another long-standing record — the futile kind — that Hamels could help the Cubs break.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Friday the team “plans to play another month.” Hamels, who won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008, would add the kind of experience that would help the team in its playoff push.

“He definitely increased his value, I’d imagine,” Maddon said. “You’re going to get that higher tier prospect because of that performance today.”

In trying to bring levity to a tough day for his team, Maddon may have revealed some truth about the burgeoning Hamels sweepstakes.

On Friday, general manager Jed Hoyer admitted there were players that the team was unwilling to part with in a trade. Given the number of teams that are interested in Hamels, the Phillies have a great deal of leverage.

The hope for the Cubs should be that the lure of winning a World Series motivates Hamels to try to influence trade negotiations.

“There’s a great history in this ballpark and it’s a fun place to come and play,” Hamels said. “I know it’s a lot of our top places to play. This is something that I grew up watching on WGN.

“So to be able to play in a day game, just knowing that I’m able to go out there and enjoy it and be myself, obviously this is what happened, which is a special moment.”