If the Phillies don't sign Cole Hamels to an extension, the buzz around baseball has the Phillies' youngest ace heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
An informal poll of MLB insiders by Metro has Hamels in Dodger blue. Seventy percent of the participants believe Hamels will play half of his games next season at Chavez Ravine, if the Phillies fail to give him the money and years he desires.
That's music to the ears of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
"Yeah, c'mon over," Kershaw said. "If Cole wants to play with us, that would be great. For some people it would be weird since he's played his whole career in Philly but he's from the West Coast. He's a San Diego native."
In an exclusive interview three years ago, Hamels noted that he rooted for the Dodgers over the Padres since the squad had a more enthusiastic fan base. Speaking of strong fan support, Hamels also expressed that he would like to remain in Philly or at least in the Northeastern corridor after his contract expires.
Kershaw believes that the money -- and the Dodgers will have plenty to spend -- will be the deciding factor.
"I understand what he says about playing in the Northeast," Kershaw said. "The fans in Philly are awesome. It's electric every time we play in Philly. But when you're a free agent, you usually go to who gives you the best contract. Hopefully we can match whatever offer he receives."
That's if the Phils let Hamels get on the open market.
"That's the big issue," Kershaw said. "The ball is in the Phillies court. They have to try and sign him before he hits free agency. If they wait too long to get a deal done and let him become a free agent and lose him, then it's their fault. Once you become a free agent, most of the time the player doesn't come back."
Kershaw is correct. The lone, major free agent to return to his team during the winter was Jimmy Rollins.
"I just don't see the Phillies re-signing Hamels," an NL scout said. "They need to but I don't think they will. I have a feeling he's going to the Dodgers."