Chicago Cubs exercise 2019 option on Cole Hamels, trade Drew Smyly

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 02: Cole Hamels #35 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the National League Wild Card game against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field on October 2, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 2-1 in 13 innings. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs made a move to improve their starting rotation Friday. As the off-season is just getting kicked off, the Cubs made the move to exercise the 2019 club option on Cole Hamels. Hamels was acquired from the Texas Rangers mid-season and instantly brought a boost to Chicago’s pitching staff. The Cubs also decided to trade Drew Smyly and a player to be named later to the Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later.

The Cubs shared the announcement on Twitter:

Chicago Cubs exercise 2019 option on Cole Hamels, trade Drew Smyly

Hamels made an instant impact after arriving in Chicago. He went 4-3 in 12 starts with the Cubs while posting a 2.36 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 76.1 innings pitched. After dealing with the struggles and injury to Yu Darvish, a mostly ineffective Tyler Chatwood, and still looking for better results from Jose Quintana, Hamels was a welcome but costly addition.

Hamels will make $20 million in 2019, and that has to be considered a steep price for a 35-year old southpaw. However, Chicago was left with few options if there is hope for the team to compete next season.

Pricey Rotation

When it is all said and done, the Cubs may boast one of the most expensive rotations in Major League Baseball for 2019. Darvish is also set to make $20 million, and Jon Lester ($27.5 million) and Jose Quintana ($10.5 million team option) are not exactly cheap. Still, a full season of the pitching Hamels displayed in the second half of 2018 would likely make Chicago serious competitors in the National League. For the Cubs, the potential reward outweighs the $20 million risk.

Smyly Traded

The decision to trade Smyly is likely nothing more than a salary dump to help offset the cost of Hamels. Trading Smyly will allow Chicago to move the $7 million he is owed in 2019 while at least getting a PTBNL in the deal. Smyly is still trying to get back to the MLB level after undergoing Tommy John Surgery.

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