After an afternoon filled with a flurry of rumors, the Texas Rangers finally agreed to send Cole Hamels to the Chicago Cubs for two pitchers and a PTBNL.
The inevitable finally happened Thursday night as the Texas Rangers reached an agreement to send Cole Hamels to the Chicago Cubs for two pitchers and a Player To Be Named Later. Obviously we can’t fully evaluate this deal because we don’t know the third piece but we can assume the quality of the PTBNL and move from there.
Trading Cole Hamels was a necessary evil with the current situation the Rangers are in. The 34-year old lefty provided no long-term value to the rebuilding team and his hefty $20 million team option for 2019 meant Texas was on the verge of letting him leave for the cost of his $6 million buyout this offseason. The market for Hamels, while tangible, was not nearly what Rangers fans had hoped after Hamels abysmal performances in July. Texas knew that the return for Cole wouldn’t be franchise changing, but getting something for him was the key.
Nitty Gritty of the Deal
Texas acquired two pitchers in the deal with the Cubs, one a prospect, the other a big leaguer. Additionally they have a Player To Be Named Later which reportedly will be named in the next few weeks. Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram tweeted that the list included pitchers and position players. While often these players aren’t world changers, they sometimes become good players. There’s a possibility that it could even be a higher ranked player than Rollie Lacy. The most notable PTBNL the Rangers picked up in recent memory was Neftali Feliz from the Atlanta Braves.
In addition to Cole Hamels, the Rangers also will be covering a portion of the money still owed to him. Hamels still has about $8 million left in 2018 and also has a $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout. Between the 2018 salary and buyout, he essentially is owed $14 million. Texas likely is going to cover around $8 million of that remaining money. Jeff Wilson notes however, that if the Cubs elect to pick up Hamels 2019 option the Rangers won’t have to cover the $6 million.
RHP Rollie Lacy
The first being pitching prospect Rollie Lacy, a 23-year old right-hander who the Rangers assigned to High-A Down East. Not a highly touted prospect, Lacy was an 11th round draft pick of the Cubs in 2017. He’s made some strides this season between the Cubs Single-A and High-A affiliates. With Single-A South Bend, Lacy appeared in 16 games, making 10 starts and posting a 4-1 record. His 2.02 ERA helped turn some heads within the Cubs organization and saw him promoted to High-A ball. He struggled for High-A Myrtle Beach but will look to right the ship when he gets in with the Wood Ducks. Long term potential for Lacy is on the high end, back of the rotation starter and low end he doesn’t make it out of Triple-A. Most likely he ends up as a long reliever in the majors.
RHP Eddie Butler
Butler is the major league pitcher that came to the Rangers in this deal. A 27-year old righty, Butler is joining the big league club in Houston for their next series. In 2018, Butler has made 8 bullpen appearances for Chicago and posted a 4.08 ERA. In 17.2 innings he’s struck out 11 and walked 7 batters. Butler makes sense as an acquisition as he isn’t eligible to become a free agent until 2023 meaning Texas can hold onto him for four years. This gives the Rangers a chance to essentially give Butler a season and a half tryout while they work on their rebuild.
In short, this was a good trade because it was a necessary one. Even though Texas didn’t acquire any top tier prospects, they were able to save some money on Hamels contract and also get a player in Lacy who could help them down the road. There’s also a possibility that the Player To Be Named Later in this deal could be a higher rated prospect than Lacy but that remains to be seen. Depending on who that player is, this deal could get a bit better in a couple of weeks.