By Jared Sandler | @SandlerJ
In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the Rangers' acquisition of Cole Hamels.
1. I love the deal. The Rangers get a bona fide top of the rotation pitcher (Hamels) with a track record of post-season experience and success--these guys don't grow on trees. Plus, he's under control through the end of the 2018 season, with the potential of an extra year with a vesting option. On top of that, they receive left-handed reliever, Jake Diekman, who can add depth to the team's bullpen. They do all of this without giving up Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Chi Chi Gonzalez. The Rangers win...
2. ...But so do the Phillies. While I was initially shocked that they didn't leverage an "ace" with multiple years of control for Mazara, they gain a haul of prospects that add immediate depth to their organization. The success rate of prospects is low, but the more you can collect, the better your chances to find a star.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ACQUISITION
3. The Rangers needed to add to their starting rotation. Quick, name the last free agent pitcher who chose to come to the Rangers (Darvish arrived after Rangers won the bid for his posting fee)? Kevin Millwood and Chan Ho Park? Oy vey...The reality is, most starting pitchers choose not to come here. Acquiring one via trade might be the best way to land one and the Rangers did that.
4. Yu Darvish has two more seasons left on his current contract with the Rangers after this one. Adding Hamels might add a little bit of protection if Darvish reaches free agency and goes elsewhere.
JON DANIELS/FRONT OFFICE
5. The Rangers had an opportunity to go out and get someone and they went out and got that guy. Plain and simple. JD deserves some credit because not only did he get that guy, but he did so without giving up Gallo or Mazara.
6. He and his team have built up a farm system so strong that allows for #5 to happen.
7. He and his team have built up a farm system so strong that, while significantly dented with this trade, are by no means depleted with the presence of Gallo, Mazara, Chi Cho Gonzalez, Luis Ortiz, Ryan Cordell, Luke Jackson, Andrew Faulkner, and Dillon Tate, among others.
8. They didn't give up Gallo or Mazara. Wow.
9. He's been one of the best, most durable left-handed pitchers for the last several years. Some call him an "Ace," while others aren't so generous. Whatever the case, he undoubtedly improves the team and one can't help but get excited at the prospect of a rotation that leads with some combination of Darvish-Hamels-Holland-Perez next season.
10. One concern is whether or not he will fall victim to the much tougher American League. Some point to his career numbers vs. AL teams (8-15, 4.73 ERA) which are not good as ammunition towards that argument. I can't honestly tell you that the American League will or won't be an issue for him.
11. Having spoken to some coaches in the game as well as scouts about those numbers and whether or not they alone warrant legitimate concern, they all said "no" without hesitation. Their reasoning was simply that things are different when you become a part of the American League and gain more familiarity about the league and the hitters.
12. Let's also not forget that Citizens Bank Ballpark, Hamels' former home grounds, is not the most pitcher-friendly park and he seemed to do just fine there.
13. He has remained very healthy throughout his career. Many people will tell you that past injury predicts future injury, so he's clear there. He also leans on a change-up, which bodes well for his health.
14. I hope he wants to be here and isn't bummed that he's not in LA. If he was bummed, I wouldn't blame him. The Dodgers have a clearer picture of winning with a pitcher-friendly park and all the perks and amenities of being a Dodger and living in SoCal, a region to which Hamels has ties. Instead, he's playing for a team that has an outside shot at the playoffs this year with a bright future, but a team with a hitter-friendly park in awful weather that, for some, requires an IV prior to starts. So, yeah, if he's bummed, I understand. But if he's too stubborn to embrace the opportunity, I'd be very disappointed in him.
15. He's due $23.5 million over the next three full seasons. That seems like a lot, but, the reality is (sadly), with the inflation of contracts, it isn't some ridiculous amount. Rick Porcello, a nice pitcher with a career ERA in the mid-4's, signed with the Red Sox this off-season for four years at over $20 million-per-year. If you spread the $9.5 million the Phillies are sending the Rangers, that essentially makes Hamels a $20 million-per-year guy. That number is very reasonable for someone of his caliber.
16. You can sound smart with your friends by letting them know that Hamels has a $24 million vesting option that kicks in if he 1) accrues at least 400 IP over 2017 and 2018 and 2) is not on the DL with a shoulder or elbow injury at the end of the 2018 season.
17. The Rangers add a hard-throwing left-handed reliever to their much-maligned bullpen. I like the acquisition. He can tandem with Sam Freeman to give the club depth versus opposing lefties.
18. He's struggled this year, in general, and has not demonstrated dominance against lefties, specifically, but that's not par-for-the-course. Over his career (nearly 200 games), Diekman has help left-handed batters to a .219 average with an OPS below .600.
19. He's making less than $1 million this year and enters arbitration next year, with free agency not coming until 2019. So, if he's good, the Rangers can keep him at a low cost for a few more years.
20. I can't stress enough the significance of acquiring an ace with multiple years of control and NOT parting with Gallo or Mazara. Wow.
21. We love them. And there are many within the Rangers world who do a wonderful job keeping us informed and promoting them so there is an added layer of familiarity and appreciation for them. It sucks seeing them go. Some might turn out to be great. But the reality is that very few meet expectations. Rangers fans should know something about this, too.
22. In my mind, this is a chance you have to take.
23. Jorge Alfaro's stock has dropped a teeny bit, to some. The season-ending ankle injury has taken away valuable developmental time and, even before the injury, some were beginning to question whether he actually would have what it takes to make it as a catcher. With that said, of all the prospects, he has the highest star potential.
24. Nick Williams was the lesser of the two top left-handed hitting outfield prospects, with Mazara being the other. I don't want to say he was "blocked," but it makes sense to give up one and he's the one I'd rather see go.
25. Jake Thompson is a Major League pitcher. Is he a starter? That's to be determined. Some people believe his nasty slider could make him a very good reliever. Either way, his development will be fun to track.
26. Eickhoff and Asher are solid prospects. The chances are, though, just based on the numbers, that neither make it as stars in the league. That's the reality.
27. The addition of Cole Hamels does NOT vault the Rangers into legitimate playoff contender status. They still have a ways to go for that, though there is no doubt that Cole Hamels improves their rotation.
28. IF the Rangers somehow wiggle into the playoffs, Cole Hamels provides them with a legitimate win-or-go-home candidate (with Derek Holland's health unknown) if they are positioned in a Wild Card spot as well as a tone-setting guy if they earn the right to play a series.
29. It's tough to see Harrison leave this organization. His comeback from spinal fusion surgery was nothing short of admirable and miraculous. Beyond that, he's as fine of a person as you'll come across in any walk of life.
30. With that said, it is very questionable how much gas Harrison has left in his tank. While it is tough to part with the person, it is a benefit to part with the remaining $28 million obligation on his contract.
31. Harrison likely didn't have a place in this rotation beyond this season. With Philadelphia, he gets more of a shot to earn his keep as a starting pitcher.
32. The Rangers' next big move is to acquire a right-handed outfield bat who has some power to inject into the middle of the order. I'd love for them to sign Yoenis Cespedes in the off-season, though I have no reason to believe the front office has the same leanings whatsoever.
33. I love that Hamels exercised his no-trade clause by vetoing a potential deal to the Astros.
34. Elvis Andrus is the last man standing from Jon Daniels' legendary haul in the Mark Teixeira trade.
35. If the Dodgers do not end up adding a significant starting pitcher, they become the real losers. Mat Latos isn't cutting it for me. They had the chips to land Hamels, but they stubbornly refused to throw one of their top two prospects in the middle. Their top two guys, Corey Seager and Julio Urias, will both be studs. But the Dodgers are trying to win NOW and it is unlikely either will help that, particularly not Urias.
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