Chicago Cubs: 5 moves that made the Cubs afraid to spend in free agency

Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs, Cole Hamels
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Hopeful for another deep postseason run, the Chicago Cubs traded for Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels to take the place of injured Yu Darvish.

The Cubs were sitting in first place on July 26, 2018, when they traded Eddie Butler and a player-to-be-named-later (PTBNL) for the veteran lefty. Hamels, 35, was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. He won a World Series with the team in 2008 and was named most valuable player of the fall classic.

Hamels actually threw a no-hitter against the Cubs in his final start for the Phillies before he was traded to the Texas Rangers in July 2015. After he was traded to the Cubs in 2018, Hamels began his first five starts with a 4-0 record and a 0.79 ERA. It was exactly what the Cubs were hoping for when they made the trade. He was playing in his final year under contract, but the Cubs had a team option worth $20 million to bring him back for 2019, and with the uncertainty in both Darvish and Chatwood, it was an easy but expensive decision.

It’s interesting to me to look back and watch the series of actions that caused a reaction. To this point, the Jason Heyward signing has been a disappointment, as has the Quintana trade. Tyler Chatwood may never regularly start in the Cubs rotation again, so he now becomes an extremely expensive bullpen guy. Yu Darvish has not yet proved he is capable of being the “ace” the Cubs signed him to be, which then forced the Cubs to pick up Hamel’s club option.

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It could also be argued that the Hamels club option, compounded with these other disappointing free agent acquisitions and trades, not only took the Cubs out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes but also put fear in the minds of the front office guys to invest in another big name. All of these moves were made because the Cubs are in their World Series championship window. They have succeeded in winning one of them, but they have also handcuffed themselves with several bad contracts.