Report: Cubs acquire Cole Hamels from Rangers

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Update #3 (11:17 PM ET): Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Rangers will receive minor league pitcher Rollie Lacy and a player to be named later from the Cubs.

Lacy, 23, was selected by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 2017 draft. The right-hander spent most of his season with Single-A South Bend before being promoted to high-A Myrtle Beach. Combined over 12 starts and six relief appearances at both levels, Lacy has a 2.45 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 24 walks in 80 2/3 innings.

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Update #2 (8:45 PM ET): The two sides have agreed on a deal, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

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Update (8:12 PM ET): Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports that the Cubs and Rangers are moving towards a trade involving Hamels. He notes the trade would involve salary relief for the Rangers and the Cubs would give up “lowever-level minor league prospects.”

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs appear to be the front-runner to acquire starter Cole Hamels from the Rangers. The Braves and Phillies are believed to have interest, and the Nationals reportedly had interest earlier this week.

Hamels, 34, has had an abysmal month. In four July starts, he has allowed 25 runs (21 earned) in 17 innings, which has caused his ERA to balloon from 4.05 to 4.72. However, Hamels has much better numbers on the road (2.93 ERA) than at home (6.41 ERA). Interested teams are likely focusing on those numbers, as well as Hamels’ track record.

Hamels is owed the remainder of his $22.5 million salary for the 2018 season and has a $20 million club option for the 2019 campaign with a $6 million buyout. His contract also includes a limited no-trade clause. He cannot block trades to the Cubs, Braves, Phillies, Astros, Mets, Mariners, Cardinals, Rays, and Nationals.

The Cubs could use an upgrade in the rotation. Tyler Chatwood has flopped after the Cubs signed him in the offseason, owning a 4.84 ERA with a remarkably poor 78/79 K/BB ratio. Yu Darvish, another offseason signing, struggled to a 4.95 ERA in eight starts before landing on the disabled list.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.