BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Late in Wednesday night’s game, the word began to leak that the Rangers and Phillies had agreed on a trade that would send Cole Hamels to Texas. Neither club has confirmed that the deal has been agreed, but after the game, players in the Rangers’ clubhouse were excited and talking as if it was a “done deal”.

The trade ended up involving eight players and money. Texas receives not only Hamels, but left-handed reliever Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to defray the salaries owed Hamels for the remaining years of his contract, which total about $80 million.

The Rangers receive further monetary compensation by including Matt Harrison in the transaction, who is owed almost $28 million under his contract. The Phillies also received five minor league prospects, all of which are ranked among the Rangers’ top 30 minor leaguers. The five are RHP Jake Thompson (no. 4), outfielder Nick Williams (no.5), catcher Jorge Alfaro (no.6), RHP Jerad Eickhoff (no. 17), and RHP Alec Asher (no. 29). Thompson, Williams and Alfaro have played at AA Frisco this season. Eickhoff and Asher are currently at AAA Round Rock.

(Note: The prospect rankings noted here are from MLB.com and have been revised since the June amateur draft to include players selected this year.)

This trade may help the Rangers slim chances of contending for a playoff berth this season, but it is a trade that was made for the longer view. Hamels is signed through the 2018 season with a club option for 2019. Diekman is in his fourth year with Philadelphia and is contractually controllable for three more seasons.

Hamels is 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts with Philadelphia this year, which includes a no-hitter against the Cubs last Saturday. He is 31 and in his 10th year with the Phillies after being drafted in the first round in the 2002 Amateur Draft. For his career, he is 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA. He has made the National League All-Star team three times and was the MVP of the 2008 National League Championship Series and World Series.

Diekman is 2-1 with a 5.15 ERA in 41 appearances this year. He has averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in his career.

Harrison won 18 games and made the All-Star team in 2012, but back problems have limited him to nine starts in the three seasons since. Three of those starts have been this year. One was outstanding – six shutout innings against the Rockies in Denver – but the other two have not gone well. He’s 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. His fastball velocity is noticeably less than it was prior to his back problems. The jury is out as to whether he will return to being a contributing back of the rotation starting pitcher, much less the All-Star that he once was.

There were a number of teams rumored to be in on Hamels with Philadelphia, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Astros. Houston is rumored to have made a very good offer that the Phillies were willing to accept. However, Hamels has a limited no trade clause that included the Astros, and he turned down the deal. He did not have the Rangers on his list of teams to which he could not be traded without his consent, which is one of the reasons the Rangers have been considered one of the favorites to land Hamels.

For next season, Hamels is expected to join Yu Darvish, and Derek Holland as the basis of the starting rotation. Martin Perez, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, likely will be one of the other two starters. Nick Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and Anthony Ranaudo will be candidates to fill out the rotation, and the Rangers could re-sign Colby Lewis, who recorded his team leading 11th win Wednesday night.

An official announcement on the trade is expected later today. Hamels will most certainly make his first Ranger start this weekend, most likely on Saturday when Harrison was originally announced as the starting pitcher.

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