The Phillies on Wednesday night pulled off a huge trade, sending World Series hero and homegrown ace Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers for six players.
Neither team confirmed the deal, but multiple sources did confirm it to CSNPhilly.com. An official announcement is expected on Thursday after some loose ends are tied up.
Reliever Jake Diekman is also on his way to the Rangers.
The Phillies will get five prospects — a catcher, an outfielder and three pitchers — that they hope can help fuel their rebuild. They are also taking on pitcher Matt Harrison, who is owed at least $28 million over the next two seasons.
Hamels declined to speak with reporters after Wednesday night’s 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays. His last official act as a Phillie was a memorable one: He threw a no-hitter Saturday at Wrigley Field, an accomplishment he said ranked just below winning the World Series in 2008. He was the MVP of that World Series and after the parade told an adorning crowd that he wanted to ride down Broad Street “again and again and again.”
The Phillies made the World Series again in 2009, but lost the Yankees. They won the NL East in 2010 and 2011, but have slipped in recent seasons and now reside in baseball’s basement.
Though he was never as vocal as Jonathan Papelbon, who was traded to Washington on Tuesday, Hamels was eager to be dealt to a contender. Though the Rangers are a sub-.500 team, they hope to make a run in the AL West this season and they like the idea that Hamels is signed for three more seasons and believe he can join Yu Darvish in delivering a World Series title before his contract runs out. Darvish is expected back from an elbow injury next season.
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With Hamels gone, only Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz remain from the World Series-winning team.
“It’s sad when your teammates for a long time have to go away,” Ruiz said in the Phillies' clubhouse late Wednesday night.
The Phillies have tried unsuccessfully to trade Howard for more than a year. Utley’s contract is likely to expire at the end of the season. There’s still a chance he could be traded in the coming weeks. There is not much of a market for Ruiz, but he could be a valuable mentor to one of the prospects the Phillies are getting from Texas.
In addition to the Rangers, the Phillies had talks with the Dodgers and Astros. According to multiple sources, the Phillies liked several of the Astros’ prospects, but Hamels informed the club he would not accept a trade to Houston. The pitcher’s limited no-trade clause allowed him to block a deal to that club. He could not block a trade to Texas.
In addition to Harrison, the Phillies also get catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams and pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff.
Alfaro, a 22-year-old from Colombia, becomes the Phillies’ top catching prospect. He has a power bat, but needs to cut down on his strikeouts. He was playing at Double A before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. He is expected to play again this season. There is clearly risk in trading for an injured player, but the Phillies like Alfaro’s upside. He projects as an offensive catcher.
Williams, 21, is another top piece in the deal. The left-handed hitter was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2012 and was hitting .300 with 13 homers, 45 RBIs and an .837 OPS in 96 games at Double A.
Thompson is a 21-year-old right-hander. He was a second-round pick of the Tigers in 2012. He is 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts at Double A.
In Baseball America's midseason prospect rankings, Thompson, Williams and Alfaro ranked Nos. 3, 4, 5 in the Rangers' system, respectively.
Asher is a 23-year-old right-hander who had been at Triple A. Eickhoff is a 25-year-old right-hander, also at Triple A.
The Phillies are also sending money to Texas. That could be in the form of absorbing some of Harrison’s salary. Hamels, the highest paid athlete in Philadelphia history, is owed about $81 million through the 2018 season. He has an option for $20 million for 2019.
How the finances would wash out was not immediately known.
What we do know is that Cole Hamels, who was drafted and developed by the Phillies and who helped create one of the greatest sporting memories ever in Philadelphia, is headed out of town.
It’s the end of an era.