The Cubs picked up Cole Hamels’ $20 million contract option for 2019 and traded Drew Smyly to the Rangers, along with a player to be named later, for a player to be named later.
Besides the PTBNL for PTBNL oddity of this deal, which likely won’t be decided until at least after the Rule 5 draft and maybe not till spring training, here’s how all the various parts of the money and players added up for these transactions, since Smyly never threw a pitch for the Cubs despite being paid $3 million for 2018 (and a $5 million 2018 luxury tax hit, on which the books are closed at this point).
The Cubs paid $5 million of Hamels’ money for 2018. So they were out about $8 million for Hamels and Smyly combined for 2018, even though Smyly didn’t play a single game in blue pinstripes. I think you’d agree that Hamels alone was worth $8 million for his performance in 2018.
So in our attribution for this entire sequence of transactions, let’s attribute all this money to Hamels. The $8 million for 2018, as shown above, and the $20 million for 2019 make this a sort of one-and-one-third year, $28 million deal, if you operate under the assumption that Smyly was not a factor for the Cubs at all in 2018. Presuming Hamels has a good 2019, that’s well worth it.
Hamels was traded to the Cubs for Eddie Butler and minor leaguers Rollie Lacy and Alexander Ovalles. So, essentially, the deal becomes: Smyly, Butler, Lacy and Ovalles for a year and a third of Hamels, with PTBNL to be swapped at a later date. It’s entirely possible the PTBNL become the famous “cash considerations,” though those are not mentioned in the Cubs official release on the Smyly deal. The PTBNL the Cubs receive could be worth more than the PTBNL they give up. We won’t know that for a few years, possibly.
Still, giving up those four players for a year and a third of Cole Hamels, who gets paid $25 million by the Cubs total for that much time (Hamels doesn’t get the $3 million paid to Smyly, of course, but I’d consider that part of this deal, in a sense), is quite worth it in my view.
The Cubs reduce their luxury tax hit by the $5 million that Smyly’s contract was going to contribute to the hit.
All that remains now is for Cole Hamels to go out and pitch in 2019 the way he did for the Cubs in 2018.
Lastly, some 40-man roster housekeeping: The Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 36. There are four players who must be activated soon from the 60-day DL and placed on the 40-man: Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, Justin Hancock and Mark Zagunis. If the Cubs do activate all four, the 40-man will be full; my guess is that Hancock and Zagunis get outrighted to Iowa, along with Taylor Davis and Mike Freeman, leaving the 40-man at 36, for now.
As always, we await developments.