7:02pm: Patrick Mooney of The Athletic also hears that the two sides are making progress on a deal (Twitter link). Mooney notes that Class-A Advanced right-hander Rollie Lacy was scratched from tonight’s start.
6:58pm: A trade between the Cubs and Rangers is “getting close,” tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Chicago made a “strong push” for Hamels earlier today, thus leading to the increased buzz surrounding their involvement in the Hamels market.
5:36pm: While the Cubs appear to be the “front-runner” for Hamels, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter), there are still other clubs in play for the lefty. Rosenthal and Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link) both suggest that the Braves are in the mix for Hamels, and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tweets that the Phillies may still be involved as well.
4:55pm: Sherman tweets that there are stronger signals that a trade of Hamels to the Cubs could come together — perhaps even today.
4:25pm: The Cubs are in “strong pursuit” of Hamels and would send lower-level prospects to Texas in the deal currently being discussed, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that there’s a “decent chance” of a deal coming together between the two sides.
2:21pm: The Cubs have recently scouted Rangers lefty Cole Hamels, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that Chicago appears to be “making inroads” to try to acquire Hamels from Texas. While Hamels has a 20-team no-trade clause, the Cubs are not on that list.
Hamels, 34, has delivered middling results with the Rangers in the final guaranteed season of his six-year, $144MM contract. Through 114 1/3 innings, he’s worked to a 4.72 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.81 HR/9 and a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate. Hamels’ velocity has bounced back after an alarming downturn early in the season, but he’s still been plagued by home runs more so than at any point in his career; thus far, just over one out of five fly-balls allowed by Hamels has resulted in a long ball.
Of course, those struggles have been largely confined to Hamels’ hitter-friendly home park. While Wrigley Field isn’t exactly a pitcher’s paradise, no stadium in baseball has been more conducive to home runs thus far in 2018 than Hamels’ current home of Globe Life Park in Arlington, per ESPN’s park factors. Baseball Prospectus’ park factors paint a similarly grim picture. Between a move to a friendlier park and a move to the National League, there’s certainly some reason to believe that Hamels’ performance could yet improve.
Hamels is earning $22.5MM in 2018 and is still owed about $7.98MM of that sum through season’s end, plus at least a $6MM buyout on his $20MM option for the 2019 season. The Cubs, however, don’t appear to be discussing the possibility of taking on all of that nearly $14MM commitment. Rather, Sherman further tweets that they’d pick up about $4MM of his deal and send secondary prospects to the Rangers in return.
Chicago entered the season with a solid on-paper rotation featuring Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and offseason signees Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood, but Darvish has missed significant time due to a triceps issue while Chatwood has walked more hitters than anyone in baseball. The Cubs have about $14MM of breathing room beneath the $197MM luxury tax threshold,so taking on roughly $4MM of Hamels’ remaining salary would allow them to supplement their rotation while leaving some room for additional acquisitions between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.