The Rangers paid a premium to acquire Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies midway through the 2015 season, and he had his moments.
But those postseason trips were short-lived and Hamels couldn’t quite deliver on the lofty expectations of carrying the organization back to the World Series.
“I wish I would’ve been able to pitch a lot better to what I know I’m capable of doing,” said Hamels, who held a farewell news conference at Globe Life Park on Friday. “I think that’s always going to probably resonate a lot here – I wasn’t able to live up to the bargain that I know have personally and what I know I’m able to accomplish out on the field. I know that’s going to be a tough thing to swallow and a tough memory that I’ll have here.
“That’s kind of the walk of life. It’s not always going to be easy.”
Hamels, 34, ends his tenure with the Rangers going 38-21 with a 3.90 ERA over 88 starts. He was the losing pitcher in the series-deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series in 2015 against the Toronto Blue Jays, and again found himself on the losing end in Game 1 of the 2016 ALDS against Toronto.
Hamels didn’t do the Rangers any favors going into this year’s trade deadline, either, going 1-3 with a 10.23 ERA in his last five starts. That’s significantly different than the no-hitter Hamels threw days before coming to the Rangers.
“I feel bad for JD [Rangers general manager Jon Daniels] cause I think I probably would’ve had a no-hitter in me Saturday,” Hamels said jokingly as he looked toward Daniels, who attended the news conference.
Hamels’ recent struggles didn’t deter the Cubs from sending three players in exchange for Hamels. Chicago’s thought process is that 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 expressed excitement of getting back into a pennant race. He’ll join the Cubs on Saturday in St. Louis, but isn’t sure when he’ll make his debut for his new team.
Hamels is ready to rejoin former Rangers teammate Yu Darvish in the Cubs rotation, too. He hopes they’re able to accomplish for the Cubs what they weren’t able to do with the Rangers – win a championship.
“I know it didn’t go the way that we both hoped [in Texas], so I think this time it’ll be the right way,” Hamels said. “Maybe he can perfect my slider. I know he still needs to work on his changeup, so I’ve got that for him.”
Hamels was in good spirits as he talked about his next chapter and joining a contender in the Cubs. But he had nothing but good things to say about the Rangers, from ownership to front office to the coaching staff.
Hamels wouldn’t rule out a return to the Rangers when he hits the free agent market, either this offseason or next (if the Cubs pick up a $20 million option for 2019).
“It’s been a tremendous experience to come here to this organization,” Hamels said. “Very thankful for the guys I got to play with here. It’s not every day you get to play with a Hall of Famer [Adrian Beltre] with just a great personality on and off the field. To play against Elvis [Andrus] and to have him as a shortstop, he’s a tremendous asset.
“I know they have a lot of great things to come. This is going to be an exciting time for Texas in the next couple of years with the new stadium. Wish nothing but the best to the fan base.”