The #Astros remain in the thick of the Cole Hamels bidding, even after Kazmir trade. They're making big push, source says.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 28, 2015
Look, even talking about this may very well be an academic exercise. We already know that the Astros are on Cole Hamels' no-trade list, which doesn't mean that he can't be traded to Houston, it just means he would have to approve a trade to the Astros. Which - of course - he may not be willing to do. But, for tonight, let's just say that he will. While we're Just Saying Things, let's also say that I'm Jeff Luhnow, and it's my call on whether or not to pull the trigger on sending whatever ransom Ruben Amaro is demanding.
If I'm looking at my core players: Altuve, Correa, Keuchel, Springer, I'm looking at the window of when they're in their prime. Altuve and Springer are 25. Keuchel is 27. Correa is but a wee lad of 20, of course. But if the Astros want to strike while these players are in their prime, then it makes perfect sense to trade for Cole Hamels.
Because you're buying Hamels for essentially the last 10 starts of his Age 31 season, and then his Age 32-34 seasons (and a buyout or vesting option for his Age 35 season). So acquiring Hamels means that you have another ace lefty to go alongside Keuchel (Scott Kazmir is not germane to this particular discussion), who will be in his Age 28-31 seasons from 2016-2019, while Altuve and Springer are in their Age 26-29 seasons over the life of Hamels' contract, straight peaking. Correa will be in his Age 21-24 seasons, which is just amazing.
That gives you a foundation of Hamels, Keuchel, Springer, Altuve, and Correa right in the prime of the latter four's careers (Hamels would be on the downward slope of his career) - and we're not even talking about McCullers and Velasquez (one of which you just know is going to Philly in return), McHugh, whomever else. You show any potential free agent those five core players, and I guarantee you the Astros are going to be more of an attractive destination to fill in the holes that can't yet be filled through the farm system - which will remain deep after this fictional trade goes through.
We fans suffered - I have an Astros jersey made of sackcloth and ashes - so the franchise could have the depth to even be a part of this conversation. Do it.