The Cubs’ acquisition of Cole Hamels on Thursday night from the Rangers might have finally put the nail in the coffin for Tyler Chatwood. At least as a starter. While details are still emerging on the trade, it looks like the Cubs are picking up just $4 million of Hamels’ remaining salary this season, and only sending Rollie Lacy and a PTBNL. Hamels is in the midst of the worst season of his storied career, but he could still prove to be a valuable player for the Cubs down the stretch, even with his 4.72 ERA.
Hamles’ velocity is right in line with his career average, so it doesn’t appear as if he’s lost anything on his pitches. His walk rate is a bit higher than his career norms, but it’s been right on par with his last two seasons. But once we look at his batted ball info, we find the underlying issue. Out of all the qualified starting pitchers in baseball this year, Hamels ranks second in Hard% rate, giving up a hard-hit ball 44.9 percent of the time. This would explain his relatively high BABIP of .296, and his 1:5 HR/FB ratio.
It’s no secret that Globe Life Park is a hitter’s haven, it raanks first in both runs and homers in terms of park factors this year, even ahead of Coors Field. And that shows in Hamels’ splits. At home this season, Hamels sported an unsightly 1-7 record with a 6.41 ERA. On the road, however, he owned a much more palatable 4-2 record to go along with a 2.93 ERA. Removing Hamels from the launching pad in Arlington and taking him out of the top heavy American League West will undoubtedly help his ability to get guys out, even if his peripherals this season are poor. Oh, and by the way, Hamels owns a 1.76 career ERA over 41 innings at Wrigley Field, including his no-hitter in 2015.
On top of simply providing another starter for the rotation, Hamels comes with loads of playoff experience. He’s been to the playoffs seven times, the World Series twice, and owns a 3.48 ERA in October. While it’s probably shortsighted to think he can produce at the same level in the postseason as he did in a Phillies uniform, we’ve all seen the impact a veteran presence can have on this clubhouse (See: Ross, David).
This is exactly the type of deal that this front office wanted to make. Acquiring a grizzled, innings eater in Hamels, the Cubs found a replacement for Tyler Chatwood without trading a someone from the Major League squad and in the process, left themselves about $9 million under the luxury tax limit to play with to acquire another reliever. And if all goes well? The Cubs have another year of Hamels for $20 million via a club option, or they can pay a $6 million buyout. He had a bad first half, but if he provides a Justin Verlander-type impact, he’ll be well worth that extra year of control.
How would you grade the Cole Hamels trade?
This poll is closed