The Cubs have been struggling, in no small part because of their starting pitching. Jon Lester has been terrific, as has Kyle Hendricks. Jose Quintana and former Ranger Yu Darvish have struggled to start the season, and Tyler Chatswood, while owning a serviceable 3.14 ERA, has walked a league-leading 34 batters in 43 innings.
There’s certainly some room for a guy like Hamels — particularly if one of Quintana and Darvish continue to struggle. It’s nearly impossible to consider a playoff rotation which omits both of those players, but one has to admit that crazier things have happened.
The Cubbies farm would surely interest Texas — eight of their top ten prospects are pitchers, four of whom played college ball. (I am absolutely projecting my insecurities onto the Rangers system, and making the assumption that a college arm might be better-equipped to succeed within the Rangers system than a younger, more impressionable one.)
A package consisting of Thomas Hatch and outfielder Mark Zagunis could get the ball rolling. Hatch has the kind of high floor that Texas is desperate for, and might allow them to inject a bit of youth into their rotation in 2019. With youngsters Hans Crouse, Kyle Cody, and Cole Ragans still years away, Hatch would fill a need and hopefully provide some savvy. Zagunis is an offense-first outfielder with average defensive ability. While Texas isn’t sparse with toolsy outfielders (Martinez, Taveras, Thompson), Zagunis has already spent a full season in AAA (where he slashed .267/.404/.455), and is blocked every which way by the Cubbies’ current outfielders.
While many fans would want to start conversations around a guy like Kyle Schwarber (who, no doubt, belongs in the AL), he’s still too critical a piece for Chicago to give up midseason. Another repeat of 2017 might make him available in the offseason, but not at the trade deadline, with Chicago very much counting on his power down the stretch.
It’s far more plausible to think that Quintana and/or Darvish will right themselves over the course of the next six weeks. If not, though, none of Chicago’s pitching prospects are Major League-ready, which would make Hamels a very desirable target.
Trade likelihood: 4/10