The Texas Rangers are acquiring lefthanded pitcher Drew Smyly from the Chicago Cubs in a deal that helps facilitate the Cubs picking up Cole Hamels $20M team option for 2019, per Jerry Crasnick on Twitter. No word yet on what other pieces are involved.
Smyly, 29, signed a 2 year, $10M deal with the Cubs after the 2017 season. Smyly underwent Tommy John surgery in June, 2017, and missed all of the 2018 season, but would seem to be on track to pitch in 2019, when he is due $7 million. Smyly has a career 3.74 ERA in 570 IP with Detroit, Seattle and the Rays, and while he has worked as both a starter and as a reliever, he will presumably be penciled into the Rangers’ 2019 rotation.
What does this have to do with Cole Hamels, you may ask? Well, Buster Olney said yesterday that the Cubs wanted to pick up Hamels’ 2019 option, but needed to move salary to do so. The Rangers would pay the $6 million buyout if the Cubs decline the option on Hamels, but pay nothing if the Cubs exercise the option. Thus, it is in the Rangers interest to take on some salary to induce the Cubs to pick up the option on Hamels, which is reportedly happening. Last night I suggested Brandon Kinztler, a reliever owed $5 million, could go to Texas to make this happen, but Smyly is a better fit for Texas.
UPDATE — The Rangers have officially announced the trade, with Smyly being acquired from the Cubs, along with a player to be named later, in exchange for a player to be named later. We shall wait and see on the PTBNLs, but I would wager neither of the PTBNLs will be anyone of substance.