Good morning. I will admit that I overreacted at the announced price of acquiring Cole Hamels mostly at the point when it came out that Jake Thompson had been included. Jorge Alfaro had been announced as in the deal and that was a tough pill to swallow since #TheLegend had been the catcher of the future forever for a team that hasn't had that guy since Pudge left. Nick Williams was included, and even though I tried to brace myself for it, and took a small amount of pride in the fact that he had played his way into being such a valuable trade asset, it broke my heart to see my favorite prospect getting shipped out.
But there was a point in time when we thought the deal was Alfaro, Williams, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff and that wasn't terribly painful overall, and, admittedly, even seemed a bit light. Then Jake Thompson's name dropped and it felt like too much. There were those other top guys and now the team's top pitching prospect, too. And heck, the team had just lost 21-5 to the New York Yankees a night before the deal happened. It's not like Hamels was going to help the 2015 Rangers, right? They were eight games out of first place!
When we heard that Thompson was included, it was even before we found out that Matt Harrison was heading to Philadelphia. Losing Harrison in the deal wasn't bad from a player asset position (it was actually quite a deft way to make the dollars work), but it seemed harsh from a human perspective as Harrison fought his way back from several surgeries to start a few games for Texas in 2015 after years of yeoman's service before becoming nothing more than a cheerleader for the Phillies so they could collect off his insurance policy.
Just over four months since the trade went down, however, I can openly admit that I was oh so wrong. The Rangers pulled off a masterful deal in acquiring Cole Hamels. We know that now because, well, Cole Hamels was not only everything we thought he could be at the top of the rotation (1.7 fWAR in two months, a real ace-like performance in the AL West clincher against Anaheim, and two very good starts against the very tough Blue Jays in the ALDS), but, as we've found out this winter, he comes cheap compared to his peers.
Zack Greinke's making a record $200+ million, David Price is right there with him at $200+ mil, Jordan Zimmermann is good for $110 mil, Jeff Samardzija got $90 million from the San Francisco Giants after leading the American League in earned runs allowed. Johnny Cueto is going to make bank from some team afraid of missing out. Hisashi Iwakuma is 35-years-old and got a three year deal at likely around $15 million per from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hamels, the same age as Greinke, will cost the Rangers about $13 million annually, as Ken Rosenthal writes in a piece about how the Dodgers screwed up and the Rangers look smart.
Of course, all of this is before we talk about Jake Diekman. At the time, he seemed like little more than a throw-in. I had honestly never heard of him before he became a Ranger. It turns out, he's a left-hander who throws 100 MPH and became a huge part of the dominant bullpen for the Rangers over the season's final two months.
Along with acquiring Sam Dyson for two minor league spare parts, the Rangers added two power arms to the back end of what had been a liability and made it a strength. Diekman won't be eligible for free agency until after 2018, Dyson won't be eligible until 2020. Now, on the free agency market, guys like Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria are getting $22 and $25 million respectively.
So, while we wait for the Rangers to fill out the team this winter, keep in mind, the already won the offseason last July.
T.R. Sullivan previews the Winter Meetings which will consist of a lot of milling around lobbies by fringe front office types and scout wannabes trying to juke past a tenacious Chris Cotillo to get to the bar.
Evan Grant has five Winter Meeting stories to watch as the Rangers need catcher depth, pitching depth, a right-handed bat and could look to unload Mitch Moreland.
Jeff Wilson writes that the Rangers arrive for the Winter Meetings with just two catchers as viable big league options. Could this be the year they land their catching white whale (who at this point is probably Jonathan Lucroy)?
Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has an article where he basically lists a bunch of sports talk radio/fan comment section/crazy twitter-level trade proposals which includes the Red Sox trading Hanley Ramirez and cash to the Rangers for no reason.
In an ESPN Insider post, Buster Olney lists Shin-Soo Choo as the sixth best right fielder in baseball which around June would have seemed beyond absurd.
Finally, here's video of Thad Levine talking about what the Rangers need this winter with the folks at Fox Sports Southwest.
Have a nice day.