The plan that general manager Jon Daniels formulated ahead of the annual non-waiver trade deadline wasn’t so much about this season as next season and beyond.
When the talks started heating up, the Texas Rangers were coming off a miserable homestand and had moved closer to fourth place in the American League West than first or second. Even after a 5-4 road trip to start the second half, Daniels was still lukewarm to the Rangers’ 2015 chances.
If any of the potential moves he were to negotiate would help these Rangers, great. If not, the moves would matter in 2016.
With the two deals that were announced Friday, one with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 3 p.m. deadline and one with the Miami Marlins after, Daniels accomplished both goals.
The biggest acquisition, the key to Daniels’ deadline formula, likes the Rangers’ chances the rest of the way this season.
“I’m excited to start the next chapter of my baseball life,” said ace left-hander Cole Hamels, the prize of the trading period. “It’s something where they have a lot of great players. I’ve followed a lot of those players. I’ve played against a lot of them.
“Knowing that there’s always a chance, especially in that league, you can get on a good roll. I don’t think they’re too far away, especially this year. I’m excited for next year. I know a couple guys are going to be coming off the disabled list. So to be part of something that’s going to be special there and live up to what I know and what I expect, I’m excited to see where it will go.”
The Phillies sent Hamels, lefty reliever Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to the Rangers on Friday morning for lefty Matt Harrison and five prospects after 36 hours in trade purgatory as various entities signed off on the eight-player deal.
Hamels and Diekman didn’t arrive at Globe Life Park until after first pitch of the opener of a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants, following Hamels’ going-away press conference in Philadelphia and a 1,300-mile flight.
Diekman was on the active roster and available for manager Jeff Banister. Hamels won’t be placed on the active roster until Saturday, when he make his Rangers debut and his first start since a no-hitter seven days ago.
Hamels touched 96 mph in that start at Wrigley Field, but his fastball usually sits at 90-94 mph. He throws one of the best changeups in the game, along with a cutter and curveball, and there is deception in his delivery.
The Rangers also added right-handed reliever Sam Dyson from Miami for catcher Tomas Telis and Double A lefty Cody Ege. He is under club control until 2020, while Hamels and Diekman can’t be free agents until 2018.
Hamels’ contract, which pays him more than $80 million through 2018, includes an option for 2019 that will be either a $24 million vesting option or a $20 million club option with a $6 million buyout.
“You’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game, under control, who wants to be here, work ethic, consistency, performance,” Daniels said.
“The fact that we were able to structure the deal as we did, and made it financially work for us, that was a big piece. It worked out well with Philadelphia because they were motivated less by dollars and more by talent we had.
“It was a chance to add a piece that we felt we needed, 2015 and 2016 and beyond.”
The Rangers entered Friday eight games behind first-place Houston in the American League West and four games out of the second wild-card spot. They had six teams to pass to get into the wild-card game.
Hamels was reminded of the 2007 Phillies team that trailed by 8 1/2 games June 2 and by seven games Sept. 12 but won the National League East on the final day of the regular season.
He can’t take his new team to the postseason all by himself, and the Rangers know that. But Hamels is ready to help make a difference.
“There’s still a chance, and I like knowing that,” Hamels said. “Being a part of what this Phillies team did in 2007, we overcame seven to eight games, and I know I can help be a part of that for the Rangers. And that’s what I look to do.
“I’m not going to go in and solve every problem. I just want to be a part of it and do what I can. My expectations are to go out there and win ballgames for them. If it can create a winning streak and start to win some decisive games, then that’s what I want to be a part of.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760