Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels may just be the missing piece to a World Series champion (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that the Texas Rangers are readying themselves for a major selloff at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline. The most logical trade candidate is left-handed starting pitcher Cole Hamels. The former 2008 World Series MVP is destined to be traded because he is in the final year of his contract that will pay him $23.5 million this year that also comes with a club option for $20 million for 2019. With the Texas Rangers well out of the playoff race, there’s probably no chance that Hamels is on the Rangers roster at the end of the season. Hamels, 34, isn’t what he once what but could be a guy that puts a playoff contender over the top this year.

The problem for Gm’s trying to gauge Hamels’ trade value is that he holds a 20 team no-trade list. Hamels has even used this once before during his Phillies tenure. Hamels nixed a trade to the Houston Astros back in 2015 (WHAT AN IDIOT) because he didn’t believe they were ready for primetime after years of losing. Instead, Hamels forced his way to Texas which obviously hasn’t worked out in terms of postseason success. Mariners, Cardinals, Nationals, Astros, Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Royals, and Rays are the only teams that can acquire him without his consent.

Philadelphia Philles 2018 Season Preview

One team that cannot acquire him without Hamels waiving his no-trade clause are the New York Yankees. New York got to see him first hand tossing 7 innings while allowing 4 hits and 2 runs. Yankees manager Aaron Boone had some strong words and claimed that Hamels would even be the 2nd starter in the hypothetical rotation. Outside of Luis Severino, the Yankees don’t have a true number two starter to follow him. Sony Gray has really struggled and Mr. Tanaka should just change his last name to inconsistency. Hamels didn’t dismiss the idea of playing for the Yankees.

Randy Miler of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com had the interview:

“Shoot, I helped them get a World Series in ‘09, so I’m sure they like me! … No, no. I understand it. It’s kind of the nature of what happens and I think anytime you get traded once, you understand that the possibilities are there. And as you get older if you’re able to play well and keep of what I know I’m capable of doing, then it’s each year you could be on a different team hunting down a postseason. So it’s kind of the nature of where I think I am in my career and in the contract and in the situation. (The Yankees) have a tremendous team. So really looking at them, it’s some of the best baseball is now being able to watch the Yankees and Boston and I think that’s just exciting for baseball fans in general and the game and the scope of it now creates with that drama that they’ve always had in their history. It’s been good to see.”

It’s interesting that he mentioned the Red Sox as well but they don’t appear to be a great fit. Boston is already too left-handed with David Price, Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez. The Red Sox really don’t need another starter as long as Rick Porcello continues to produce. Outside of the Red Sox, maybe the Phillies jump into trade talks because of familiarity to go with a potential NL East title on the line.

Hamels Is No One Trick Pony:

The most interesting thing to monitor with Hamels this year is his pitch selection. The Rangers starter has always been a five pitch pitcher that features a four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, curveball, and changeup. However, Hamels has actually become a six-pitch pitcher adding a slider into his arsenal. That makes Hamels incredibly hard to narrow down come postseason time when scouting reports really come into focus with a lot of time to prepare. Hamels is having a solid season despite losing about 2 miles per hour (down from 92 to 90) compared to four years ago. On the season Hamels owns a 3.38 ERA but his strikeout rate of 9.82 K/9 is the highest it’s been since his rookie year back in 2006. The addition of his slider could be a reason for that.

That’s Some Cheese – Episode 19 – 4.6.18

Check out what Hamels told Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News back in March:

“I’m trying to get the Kershaw slider,” said Hamels, referring to Los Angeles Dodgers ace and Highland Park resident Clayton Kershaw. “If I can get that, my strikeout rate might go up.”

“Manager Jeff Banister said he liked to look of the pitch. He is in favor Hamels adding the slider because it gives him another power pitch that can produce strikeouts.”

Cole Hamels
This is a chart of how often Cole Hamels is throwing each pitch in his repertoire (BrooksBaseball.Net)

Hamels has only thrown 52 sliders on the season but 43 have been on 2 strike counts. Hamels isn’t what he once was but his new weapon may just make him an elite pitcher again come postseason time showing shades of his 2008 self.

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