REPORT: Cubs Making "Inroads" in Effort to Land Cole Hamels (UPDATES: Phillies, Braves Still In?)

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REPORT: Cubs Making “Inroads” in Effort to Land Cole Hamels (UPDATES: Phillies, Braves Still In?)

Chicago Cubs
[Lots of UPDATES rolling out below, new post here. Sounds like it’s happening!]

Well, then, that’s quite a report:

To be sure, “inroads” and “try” are words that do not indicate something is definitely happening. But this is not the first mention of Cole Hamels and the Cubs, so you naturally take something like this quite a bit more seriously.

Hamels, 34, is not only not the pitcher he once was, but he’s also been quite terrible this season (4.72 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 1.81 HR/9, 22.7% K rate, 8.4% BB rate). But he wouldn’t be acquired to BE the guy he once was – just a quality veteran brought in as depth, and rolling the dice on a change of scenery. Here’s what I said this morning before this new report popped up:

As we discussed with Jesse Chavez, Arlington is playing EXTREMELY homer friendly this year (most friendly in baseball by a lot), and most of Hamels’ terrible numbers are because of that abysmal home run rate. On the road, his ERA is under three.

This is not the same as a Tyler Chatwood situation, where discussions of his home/road splits were mixed (there were some good results on the road in some years, but really mixed peripherals), the story of what Chatwood could be was much more complicated. Hamels is an established veteran with dwindling stuff who, in one specific way, does appear to be hurt disproportionately by the long ball in a home park that is extremely friendly to them right now.

To be sure, Hamels still gives up a ton of hard contact on the road, so that has to be considered. But he also has given up far fewer fly balls, and far fewer of the fly balls he’s given up have left the ballpark. No one is trying to tell you he’ll suddenly be great with a new team; just providing context for his numbers.

Contractually speaking, Hamels is an interesting one, because he’s very expensive – still owed $7 million this year – which will make him a tough fit for teams with tight budgets. He also comes with a team option for 2019 at $20 million with a $6 million buyout. So, unless money is included in the trade, you’re taking on a huge financial commitment (and a $14 million decision next year). Moreover, Hamels has a no-trade clause that he could use to block deals to teams that won’t pick up that option. The Cubs, reportedly, are not on his no-trade list, however.

Given the complicated contract situation, I could imagine you would need to make “inroads” to get a deal done.

You may recall that the Cubs claimed Hamels on waivers a few years ago – but were unable to work out a trade – before he wound up later traded to the Rangers. I’m not sure how much relevance a waiver claim that long ago has on their opinion of Hamels now, but it could suggest there are some makeup things they like.

Earlier, we heard that the market for Hamels was thin, which could mean he could be had for an especially reasonable price. Moreover, the Cubs and and Rangers have already made one deal this trade season, so there may be some helpful prospect familiarity.

Combine that price with what could be a perfectly solid veteran depth addition to a rotation that needs it (six-man rotation for life!), and I like it. It’s not an impact move. It’s a fine move. And maybe, like with Chavez, it could be a sneaky good one. Hey, Hamels does nothing but throw no-hitters at Wrigley Field, so …

Hamels is currently scheduled to make his next start for the Rangers on Saturday, facing none other than Justin Verlander – another pricey veteran who was languishing with a crappy club. Verlander found his youth when he was invigorated by a playoff race and hasn’t looked back.

UPDATE: Other teams involved, yes, but this is a pretty detailed level of discussion:

If the Cubs would take on ONLY $4 million total, and give up only secondary prospects, this would be a fantastic deal for them. No luxury tax implications for this or next year (Cubs have about $10 million in space this year accounting for bonuses), and no significant prospects given up. Plus they’d presumably still have the option of retaining him for next year if he somehow has a resurgence.

UPDATE 2: Whoa baby, we might be getting serious here:

According to Sherman, who is clearly on top of this, this deal has a chance to be concluded “possibly even today.” And just to throw some fire gas on the flames, I’ll point out that Ken Rosenthal has also heard the Cubs are seriously pursuing Hamels.

UPDATE 3: Although things are moving along, the Cubs aren’t the only team involved:

Reportedly, the Braves are another team to whom Hamels cannot block a trade.

UPDATE 4: A report out of Texas indicates the Phillies (another team to which he cannot block a trade) could be in:

It’s certainly possible that this last-minute Braves-Phillies business is legit, but it’s also possible it’s a last-minute effort by the Rangers to squeeze the Cubs a little bit more.

UPDATE 5: And now the local reports that have the Cubs closing in on a deal, and the specific mention of the medical stage:

Usually you don’t do a physical before a trade (you just review existing medical information), so either this is a special circumstance (like with Wade Davis), or Kaplan simply meant medical reviews.

Also – and this could be COMPLETELY UNCONNECTED, as you know how this time of year is – pitching prospect Rollie Lacy was a last-minute scratch today for the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and outfield prospect DJ Wilson was activated from the DL by the Pelicans, but was not in the starting lineup.

UPDATE 6: Others now wondering the same thing about the guys not playing at High-A tonight …

UPDATE 8: A deal is in place, new post here.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.