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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Left-hander Cole Hamels will return to the Cubs next season after the team exercised its $20 million option. He was traded to Chicago from Texas in July and went 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA with the Cubs.

Saturday, November 03, 2018 1:00 am

Baseball

Hamels to remain in Cubs rotation

RONALD BLUM | Associated Press

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs exercised their $20 million option on Cole Hamels on Friday, solidifying their rotation for next year, and traded fellow left-hander Drew Smyly to the Texas Rangers.

Hamels, who turns 35 in December, went 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts after he was acquired in a July 27 trade with Texas – a frequent trade partner for Chicago since Theo Epstein took over the Cubs' front office in 2011. Had the Cubs declined the option and paid a $6 million buyout, the Rangers would have paid the Cubs an additional $6 million.

Smyly, 29, is heading to Texas after missing his only year in Chicago as part of his recovery from Tommy John surgery in June 2017. The Cubs also parted with a player to be named in exchange for a player to be named.

Smyly signed a $10 million, two-year contract with Chicago last December.

He was healthy at the end of last season, but the contending Cubs ran out of time in terms of bringing him back.

Chicago also claimed infielder Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the New York Mets. The 26-year-old hit .167 in 21 games with New York this year.

Hamels gives manager Joe Maddon a deep group of starting pitchers as the Cubs try for their fifth consecutive playoff appearance.

Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish also are expected to return, with Mike Montgomery and Tyler Chatwood waiting in the wings.

Elsewhere, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper and Boston closer Craig Kimbrel were among just seven free agents who received $17.9 million qualifying offers from their former clubs Friday, when Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw agreed to a $93 million, three-year contract rather than test the market.

Left-handers Patrick Corbin (Arizona) Dallas Keuchel (Houston) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (Los Angeles Dodgers) also received offers as did outfielder A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks) and catcher Yasmani Grandal (Dodgers).

Players have until Nov. 12 to accept. If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the June amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round.

Just five of 73 players given qualifying offers have accepted since the process began in 2012.

Kershaw terminated a $215 million, seven-year contract that had $65 million remaining at $32 million next year and $33 million in 2020. The new deal calls for a $23 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments on June 30 in each of the next three years, and annual salaries of $23,333,333. 

A free agent can be made a qualifying offer only if he has been with the same team continuously since opening day and has never received a qualifying offer before.

Because of those rules, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson were among the players who were ineligible to receive offers.

Others among the 160 available free agents include right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Charlie Morton, left-handers J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia, relievers Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, David Robertson and Jeurys Familia, outfielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Mike Moustakas, infielder Daniel Murphy, designated hitter Nelson Cruz and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez.