Even after bolstering their rotation with Scott Kazmir the Astros made a strong run at Cole Hamels, but a possible deal with Philadelphia came to a halt when Hamels used his no-trade rights to veto a potential move to Houston.
According to both Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com Hamels informed the Phillies at some point in the process that he would not accept a trade to the first-place Astros, causing them to focus on the eventual deal with the third-place Rangers.
Kazmir is merely a two-month rental for a team contending ahead of scheule, whereas the Astros no doubt liked the idea of being able to pair Hamels with Dallas Keuchel atop their rotation for several years of contending teams. It’s possible the Rangers’ offer would have topped the Astros’ offer anyway, but Houston’s involvement does signal that the Astros were willing to add significant salary now that they’re through the massive rebuild phase and firmly established as contenders.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.