Cole Hamels cleared out his locker and is headed to the Chicago Cubs, sources confirmed.
The Texas Rangers have reached an agreement to send the veteran left-hander to the Cubs in exchange for two players and a player to be named later. One of the players coming to the Rangers is Rollie Lacy, a 23-year-old right-hander who is pitching for the Cubs’ High A affiliate in Myrtle Beach.
Sources described the other player as “not a prospect” to our Jeff Wilson, and it’s unclear whether that means a Cubs player or a low-upside minor league player.
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The Rangers will pick up a “significant amount” of Hamels’ salary to complete the trade.
Hamels is making $23.5 million this season, and has a team option for $20 million with a $6 million buyout for next season.
The Rangers and Cubs have not yet announced the trade. With money changing hands, the trade requires MLB approval. But it’s be a stunning twist if it doesn’t happen.
Hamels’ former teammates said their goodbyes after Thursday’s game.
“The last thing you want to see, especially the quality of pitcher that he is being our ace the past two, three years, it is sad, but understandable,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “I wish him the best. We know that as soon as he’s back in contention, he’ll be back on track.”
Added catcher Robinson Chirinos: “He was a good teammate. It’s hard to see.”
Hamels emerged as a strong candidate to bolster the Cubs’ rotation on Thursday. Chicago manager Joe Maddon praised Hamels after the Cubs’ 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks.
“He’d be pretty good,” Maddon told reporters. “I’ve not liked him for a long time. He’s pitched some really big games against teams that I’ve been involved with and has done really well. He’s a great competitor. He’s got good stuff, but he competes and he knows what he’s doing out there. I’d have to rank him as a pretty competent major-league left-handed pitcher.”
For the Rangers, it made sense because Hamels could not block a trade to the Cubs.
The Cubs need rotation help with Yu Darvish on the disabled list, and right-hander Tyler Chatwood struggling of late.
Hamels, 34, is struggling, too, going 1-3 with a 10.23 ERA in his last five starts. But, for the Cubs, the belief is Hamels will be rejuvenated by joining an organization in the playoff mix and give a similar boost as to what Justin Verlander did for the Houston Astros last season.
Hamels is 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts for the Rangers this season, but has been significantly better on the road than at Globe Life Park. Hamels is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 10 starts on the road this season.
He’s enjoyed postseason success, too, being named the 2008 World Series MVP. In 16 postseason games, Hamels is 7-6 with 3.48 ERA.
The Rangers traded for Hamels in the middle of the 2015 season, and won two American League West titles with him. His best season came in 2016 when he was an All-Star and finished 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA over 32 starts.
For his career in Texas, Hamels went 38-21 with a 3.90 ERA over 88 starts.
Lacy, meanwhile, was an 11th round pick in 2017 out of Creighton. He’s 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 18 games, including 12 starts, this season with stints at Myrtle Beach and Class A South Bend.
This is the latest in a number of trades between the two clubs in recent years. Among them:
July 31, 2012: Rangers acquire starter Ryan Dempster for Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva.
July 31, 2012: Rangers acquire catcher Geovany Soto for Jake Brigham.
July 22, 2013: Rangers acquire starter Matt Garza for Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez.
July 19, 2018: Rangers trade reliever Jesse Chavez for minor leaguer Tyler Thomas.
July 26, 2018: Rangers agree to trade Cole Hamels for minor leaguers.