Some items from the NL Central…
- Cole Hamels has been nothing short of excellent since joining the Cubs, posting a microscopic 0.72 ERA over his first 25 innings with the team. With Hamels pitching like an ace again, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could bode well for the Rangers, as Texas wouldn’t be on the hook for the $6MM buyout of Hamels’ $20MM option for 2019 if Chicago decided to exercise that option. There are some complications, Grant notes, as the Cubs may not want to spend that much on a pitcher who turns 35 in December, no matter how well Hamels performs down the stretch. The Cubs already have quite a bit of money tied up in their rotation, and keeping Hamels would put them in danger of surpassing the luxury tax threshold (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has written in the past about the Cubs’ strange reluctance incur a tax penalty, despite the relatively meager financial cost they’d face as “a first-time payor.”)
- “There are rumblings that the Brewers will try to flip” Jonathan Schoop after the season, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. If a trade partner can’t be found, Milwaukee might just non-tender Schoop. The middle infielder earned $8.5MM this season and, despite his struggles, will be due a raise in 2019 in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility. Schoop has posted just a .384 OPS over 50 PA this joining the Brewers, and he has only started two of Milwaukee’s last five games. Barring a turn-around, it’s hard to see Schoop generating much interest on the trade front.
- After being designated for assignment by the Indians in the 2016-17 offseason, Jesus Aguilar told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that he considered leaving MLB due to overseas interest. “I even was thinking about Korea and Japan,” Aguilar said. “When they put me on waivers, my agent was talking to me: ’They got people there. They want me there, too.’ ” This career crossroads ended when Aguilar was claimed by the Brewers, and the first baseman blossomed after receiving more playing time, hitting .280/.366/.579 with 29 homers and a league-best 89 RBI over 413 plate appearances this season.
- The Reds’ recent front office shuffle was likely due to the team’s lack of recent success at developing pitchers and finding international prospects, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. While the Reds signed Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias out of Cuba, they haven’t had a real find in the Dominican or Venezuelan player markets since Johnny Cueto back in 2004, which Fay argues could stem from parting ways with scout Johnny Almaraz in 2007. (Almarez has since gone on to become the Phillies’ director of amateur scouting.)