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Cubs pick up Cole Hamels’ option, trade Drew Smyly to Rangers

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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago Cubs will exercise Cole Hamels‘ $20 million option for 2019. And, as we talked about this morning, they cleared salary to do so, trading pitcher Drew Smyly to the Rangers.

Hamels was outstanding for the Cubs after being acquired from Texas at the deadline last season, putting up a 2.36 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 74/23 in 76.1 innings in 12 starts. He’ll be entering his 14th season in the big leagues and, for his career is 156-114 with a 3.40 ERA (124 ERA+). He’ll slot in alongside Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks at the top of the Cubs 2019 rotation. Chicago just picked up Jose Quintana’s option as well, so 1-4 is all set, actually.

Smyly has not pitched in the big leagues since 2016 and has only pitched one single game — a contest for South Bend of the Midwest League — in that time. He’s on the books for $7 million in 2019, however, by virtue of the two-year deal the Cubs handed him last December as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery he underwent in mid-2017.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.