UPDATE: Hamels was traded to the Cubs on Thursday night. Stand down.
The Braves have checked in on Cole Hamels and are reportedly “in” on the veteran southpaw, according to Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio. The report came shortly after news broke that the Cubs were making an inroads with the Rangers to acquire Hamels.
Ken Rosenthal also confirmed the Braves’ interest.
On the surface, Hamels, 34, has not been good by almost any measure this year. He owns a 4.72 ERA, 5.20 FIP and is surrendering more home runs than almost any starter in baseball (3rd most on a nine-inning basis out of 80 qualified starters). He’s owed roughly $10 million through the end of 2018 and has a hefty $6 million buy-out clause for 2019.
He was not very good in 2017, either, with a 4.20 ERA and 4.62 FIP.
If you’re really trying to figure why the Braves would be interested in his services, there are a few (somewhat) easy ways to connect the dots.
For one, the prospect cost would be minimal. Texas is 24 games out in the AL West and will not be competitive anytime soon. Hamels would not command big time prospects. While a starter like Chris Archer or Marcus Stroman would likely cost numerous top prospects, one would imagine Hamels could be had for next-to-nothing even with the Rangers sending over considerable cash considerations.
Secondly, his home/road splits are something to behold. His ERA at home is 6.41 while his ERA on the road is 2.93. A lot of that is due to the homers he’s surrendering in his home park; Globe Life Park in Arlington has been the most homer-friendly stadium this year while SunTrust Park has been the last homer-friendly park. His xFIP, which helps negate a sudden spike in home run rate, is a palatable 4.17 on the year.
Finally, Hamels is a durable veteran with plenty of playoff experience. He would surely help the younger players as they push for the team’s first playoff appearance in five seasons. We all love Veteran Presents.
It seems pretty clear that the Braves are looking far and wide for starting pitching help, and Hamels is likely one of dozens they’ve inquired about. The next six days should be fun.