It started coming out last night, but now the details look largely complete:
The Rangers will acquire Phillies ace Cole Hamels, plus reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5 million for pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams. The Phillies will also receive lefty Matt Harrison, who is getting over a spinal fusion procedure, and is owed more than $30 million at this point. (Deal not finalized, but agreed upon: here, here, here, among others.)
That’s a whole lot to unpack and contextualize, but the short version is: the Rangers gave up a lot to get Hamels, as you would expect. But let’s assuming Harrison’s contract is dead money, then you can add together his deal and the cash the Rangers receive, and it’s as if they’re getting Hamels (plus Diekman, who was a very interesting reliever the last two years) plus $40 million.
That’s just about half of what Hamels is owed at this point through 2018, meaning that he is – in practical effect to the Rangers – on a steal of a contract.
When you put it in that light, giving up Thompson, Williams, and Alfaro – each probably top 50/75 prospects in the game – plus Eickhoff and Asher (also top 30 guys in the system) is a pretty reasonable deal. In fact, I think the Rangers may have made out very well in this one.
To be fair, maybe Harrison’s deal isn’t completely dead money, and he’ll yet prove to have some value over the next two years (he’s not yet 30). Maybe that balances things a bit more.
Still; it’s hard not to look at this deal and feel like the Phillies did get squeezed by the market getting loaded with pitchers for trade, and projecting to be loaded with free agents after the season.
Could or should the Cubs have beat this deal? Well, it would have been a little trickier to work out financially, but let’s imagine that the Cubs had $30 million in dead money they could have sent along. This would have been like trading Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Duane Underwood, Jr., and two players at the back of the Cubs’ top 30 for Hamels and Diekman, with Hamels effectively making only about $40 million for three years after this season.
I can make an argument that you should pull the trigger on that deal (these kinds of comparisons are imperfect, by the way, and this is all just for discussion/example purposes), but I can understand why the Cubs would not. I was never crazy about the Cubs giving up a ton to get Hamels right now anyway, preferring that they go for a rental now, and then play in free agency after the season.
So, Hamels is now off to Texas. That takes him off of the market not only now, but also in the offseason, and could take the Rangers out of the market for a big-time free agent starter.