In what must have been earth-shattering news to Texas Rangers fans everywhere, this week, Jon Daniels confirmed that Texas will, in fact, be sellers in the weeks between now and the July 31st trade deadline. (In other news, water is wet!)
Though Texas wants to keep their young players (another shocker), any real chance at acquiring impact pieces for the future might require one or two cost-controlled youngsters to be thrown into a trade.
Let me start by acknowledging, up front and out loud, that trade speculation is a ridiculous thing. It is, in many ways, the third cousin of scouting: all of the opinions with none of the expertise or knowledge. It’s like your friend from the pre-Internet age saying, “Look, I know a guy who knows a guy…” I am widely admitting this much.
That said, us Rangers fans could use a bit of positivity these days, so let’s speculate a little bit, shall we?
First up, ol’ Dreamboat himself, Cole Hamels.
The lefty has a limited no-trade clause, requiring him to accept trades to any team except Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, Houston, Chicago (AL), Philadelphia, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta. He’s also due either $20,000,000 in 2019, or a $6,000,000 buyout.
Currently, he’s got a 3.48 ERA, an ERA+ of 133, and a WHIP of 1.277. He’s also striking dudes out at a rate (9.9/9) well above his career average (8.5/9). He’s been bit prone to the long ball (whatever, George Springer), but, assuming his nagging neck is just a blip on the radar, Hamels will be very appealing to a club looking to beef up their rotation.
Let’s focus on the clubs Texas can deal him to without consent, and let’s remove Kansas City and Tampa Bay (sorry Rays, I respect your current streak, but not the longevity of your club) for what should be obvious reasons.
That leaves the Mariners, Cards, Astros, Cubs, Phillies, and Braves.
Let’s take out the Astros — not so much because they share a division with Texas, but because, at present, Houston’s starters lead all of baseball in both quality starts and ERA. Between Verlander, Cole, McCullers, Keuchel, and Morton, there’s simply no need to shell out for Hamels.
Additionally, the Cardinals currently don’t have much use of Hamels’ services. Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Carlos Martinez, and Miles Mikolas have all been, at the very least, serviceable (and at best, lights out), and they’ve got youngsters in Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes ready to contribute (Reyes dominated in his first rehab stint since TJ surgery). Even with Adam Wainwright’s injury, there doesn’t appear to be a spot for Hamels on this club.
That, and they’re currently tied for third in the NL Central (with the Cubs) — and that’s with good pitching — and have an uphill battle to even enter the postseason conversation.
The remaining clubs? Well, it’s anybody’s guess. I’ll take some stabs.