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The Cubs might make a trade before they exercise Cole Hamels’ option, according to a report

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The plot thickens.

Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

The deadline for the Cubs to decide to exercise Cole Hamels’ option is 4 p.m. CT this afternoon.

Keep your eyes open, because here’s an interesting report from someone who is generally pretty tuned in to these sorts of things:

I looked through the article I wrote last month on the Cubs’ estimated payroll. And the only player I see really worth trading, who could clear sufficient salary to be meaningful to a Hamels contract, is Jose Quintana. Hmmm. I wrote something about the Cubs trading Quintana just last week. Perhaps they will.

Here’s something related, though, that I found a bit disturbing:

The Cubs should have payroll flexibility. There’s no reason not to spend through the luxury tax limit of $206 million for 2019. Granted, there will be newly arb-eligible players who will get substantial raises for next season, as I detailed in the payroll article linked above.

But the Cubs can certainly afford to keep Hamels and Quintana if they so choose. Now, if they want to trade Quintana to get young, cost-controlled pitching, that’s one thing.

All of this could be distraction, or speculation. Ken Rosenthal says there won’t be a “long-term” deal for Hamels, and I certainly wouldn’t go past two years for him.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting Friday in November for the Chicago Cubs. Stay tuned.