Another prominent left-handed starter has reportedly been been plucked off the trade market as the Chicago Cubs swung a deal to acquire Cole Hamels from the Texas Rangers late Thursday night. No official word has been given by either team but all signs point to a deal, and league sources have confirmed the agreement.
Evan P. Grant of the The Dallas Morning News was the first to report the deal.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today later confirmed the deal and added that the Rangers would be receiving low-level minor league players in return for Hamels.
Hamels joins a Cubs team that is desperate for help in the starting rotation. Fellow left-handers Jon Lester and Jose Quintana have pulled their weight so far this season, but Chicago’s other big money starters have left a lot to be desired.
Yu Darvish, who was signed to a lucrative six-year, $126 million deal in the offseason, has largely been ineffective and has also struggled to stay healthy. Darvish has only made eight starts to this point in the season, posting a 1-3 record with an uninspiring 4.95 ERA so far. He has been on the disabled list since late June with bicep tendinitis.
Another one of Chicago’s offseason signings, Tyler Chatwood, has also been a disappointment in the 2018 campaign. Chatwood currently posts a 4-5 record with a 4.98 ERA to go along with an appallingly bad 82-85 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 94 innings pitched so far this year. Not only does Chatwood lead all of baseball for most walks by a starter but he has the record by a landslide. The only starting pitcher in baseball with almost as many walks is Luca Giolito of the Chicago White Sox with 64 walks, 21 fewer than Chatwood.The @Cubs have reportedly acquired veteran left-handed starter Cole Hamels, addressing perhaps their biggest need before the postseason.Click To Tweet
The Cubs are clinging on to a 2.5 game lead in the National League Central division entering Thursday night. They badly need stability added to the starting rotation in order to keep that lead over the ever-ambitious Milwaukee Brewers. Hamels has struggled to this point in 2018, which likely explains the underwhelming return for him in the trade. Hamels currently holds a 5-9 record with a 4.79 ERA in 20 starts for the Rangers. However, it is not Hamels’ current numbers that persuaded the Cubs to pursue him in a trade.
By landing Hamels the Cubs have acquired a proven, playoff-tested starter whom will not shy away from the big stage. He was once a World Series Most Valuable Player back in 2008 when he helped the Philadelphia Phillies capture the World Series Championship. His playoff pedigree and dependability make him an attractive addition to a Cubs team with their sights set on a return to the postseason.
Hamels will likely also benefit from moving out of the overly right-handed and power-heavy American League. Instead of having to duel the potent lineups of the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox he will instead be facing younger, more balanced lineups such as the Atlanta Braves and division rival Milwaukee. Both the Braves and Brewers depend on left-handed hitters to provide the bulk of their offense, with guys such as Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Travis Shaw, and Christian Yelich just to name a few. Hamels will provide the Cubs with a slight matchup advantage going into battle with these National League rivals.
Hamels is under contract through the 2020 season, and it is certainly an expensive contract. Luckily for Chicago, the Rangers sent over a considerable amount of money to cover the remainder of Hamels’ 2018 salary, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
Hamels is scheduled to make $20 million for the 2019 season, but his contract does include a $6 million buyout should the Cubs choose not to retain him at that salary next season.
The Cubs have made a smart deal to bolster their starting rotation. Time will tell if Hamels is able to shine on the postseason stage once more.