The Chicago Cubs are gambling a change of scenery and a pennant race will help Cole Hamels return to form.
The Cubs acquired the veteran lefthander from the Texas Rangers on Friday for righthander Eddie Butler, minor league pitcher Rollie Lacy and a player to be named. The Cubs are responsible for paying Hamels $5 million.
As part of the deal, Texas will send Chicago $2,862,903 to cover a portion of the $7,862,903 remaining in Hamels’ $22.5 million salary this year. If the Cubs decline his $19 million option for 2019 and pay a $6 million buyout, the Rangers would pay the Cubs an additional $6 million.
Hamels is in the midst of perhaps the worst year of his career, going 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts with last-place Texas. He is just 1-3 with an 11.12 ERA in four starts in July.
But Hamels, 34, is an experienced playoff pitcher with a history of success at Wrigley Field. He was the NL Championship Series and World Series MVP when Philadelphia won the title in 2008. He is 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 16 career postseason starts.
“To be able to change kind of the mindset, now to go on a first-place team, there’s something inside of you that sparks when you get in those situations,” Hamels said at the Rangers ballpark after the trade was announced.
Hamels, who had been scheduled to start for Texas on Saturday in Houston, will instead travel to join the Cubs for the rest of their series in St. Louis. The lefty said he wasn’t sure yet when he would make his first start for Chicago.
“I think teams know he’s better than he’s pitched recently. We certainly know that,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, adding that the Cubs were one of four teams he had serious discussions about Hamels with on Thursday.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was in Tampa Bay’s dugout when Hamels led the Phillies past the Rays for the championship 10 years ago.
“He’s been pretty good. I’ve not liked him for a long time,” Maddon cracked after Chicago’s 7-6 victory over Arizona on Thursday. “He’s pitched some really big games against teams I’ve been involved with and he’s done really well. He’s a great competitor, got good stuff. But he just competes and he knows what he’s doing out there, so I’d have to rank him as a pretty competent major league lefthanded pitcher.”
Hamels is 3-1 with a 1.76 ERA in six career starts at Wrigley. The San Diego native struck out 13 while pitching a no-hitter at Chicago’s iconic ballpark in his final start with the Phillies in 2015. He was traded to Texas six days later.
D-backs get Escobar
The Minnesota Twins have traded infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three minor leaguers, it was announced.
Escobar, 29, has a .274/.338/.514 slash line this season and leads the majors with 37 doubles. He has played third base, shortstop and second base this season and gives the Diamondbacks a desired offensive upgrade.
The Diamondbacks trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1 1⁄2 games in the NL West entering Friday. They also are a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race.
Arizona ranks seventh in the National League with 461 runs and 12th in the league with a .705 team OPS. In addition, third baseman Jake Lamb, who left Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs with a shoulder contusion, was placed on the 10-day disabled list.
The Twins will get pitcher Jhoan Duran, outfielder Ernie De La Trinidad and outfielder Gabriel Maciel. — ESPN.com
Mariners and Cardinals deal
The Seattle Mariners have bolstered their bullpen by acquiring righthanded reliever Sam Tuivailala from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor-league pitcher Seth Elledge.
Tuivailala is 3-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 appearances for St. Louis this season, his second full season in the big leagues. He’ll immediately jump into the playoff race with Seattle holding a one-game lead over Oakland for the second wild card in the American League.