It wasn’t that long ago that the Texas Rangers made two trips to the World Series, in 2010 and 2011. But they are far from being a championship caliber team this season. Because of that, they are said to already be thinking about putting a few guys on the trade block—like starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
Chances are good that when they do put him on the block, he’ll be in demand.
It’s not hard to see why. After a rough April (1-3 in six starts with a 3.97 ERA) he rebounded with a solid effort in May (2-1 in four starts with an ERA of 3.20). So far this season (through 12 games) he’s averaging just over six strikeouts a game.
Okay, so he’s good, but not great. But Justin Verlander was just ‘good’ before Houston traded for him last season—and now he’s great. Maybe Hamels could have that kind of turn-around if he were to find a new home.
He will not come cheap with a guaranteed salary of $23.5 million (and a $20 million option for 2019). However, a contending team looking to improve its World Series odds is not going to be highly concerned about salary.
But which contenders should be interested?
- New York Yankees: They have plenty of offensive firepower, but to be a World Series contender they are going to need to do something about their starting pitchers. With the exception of Luis Severino, they don’t have anyone that is going to scare opposing hitters. They have assets they can trade, and the Rangers have plenty of needs.
- Houston Astros: Houston’s offense led the way last season, but this season it has been their No. 1 ranked pitching staff. The offense is still productive (third) but there have been times where it has been lacking this season—which means they may need to lean on pitching if they are going to repeat. Adding a guy like Hamels could give the Astros some valuable depth.
- Atlanta Braves: The Braves are surprising contenders this season, at least so far. But they are going to have a lot of competition for the NL East crown. Adding someone like Hamels to a solid, young rotation could be the difference between winning the division or having to settle for a wildcard spot
- Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are like the Braves, a good, young team that is more competitive than expected. They have a good, young rotation with an excellent one-two punch in Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Come playoff time, it would be nice to have a good one, two, three shot, with Hamels as the third.
The trade deadline is still two months away. It’s hard to say who will make the offer the Rangers can’t refuse first. But fans can probably count on someone making such an offer.