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:
#Cubs might make a trade to clear salary before picking up Hamels’ $20M option, sources tell The Athletic. At this point, a long-term deal for Hamels is unlikely. If Cubs decline option and make Hamels a free agent, #Rangers will pay his $6M buyout. But goal is to keep him.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 2, 2018
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:
Other teams' read on the Cubs' situation this winter: They have very little payroll flexibility, and will have to spend very carefully to affect upgrades for the 2019 season. The days of having a cheap core of young players are over for the front office.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 2, 2018
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.