Texas Rangers: 5-years later, who won the blockbuster Cole Hamels trade?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Cole Hamels #35 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Cole Hamels #35 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

In this unfortunate MLB lockdown, we look back at blockbuster trade from 2015 that sent World Series MVP Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers.

July 31, 2015 – Breaking MLB news: The Texas Rangers acquire Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for five prospects and starting pitcher Matt Harrison.

Five years later, who won the trade?

It seemed like a wise deal on both ends at the time. The Rangers were 50-52, eight games back in the AL West. They had a formidable club, though pitching was a definite drawback, especially with Yu Darvish sidelined for the year.

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Texas saw an opportunity to still conquer the division, but also set themselves up for future success. Imagine Darvish and Hamels headlining future rotations.

The Phillies had seen better days. Hamels was about all that was left of a magical bunch that led the franchise to consecutive World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009, one in which they were victorious. 17 games behind in the NL East, it was time to swap existing talent for prospective talent.

Each club got what they wanted. Much thanks to their newcomers, the Texas Rangers went on to win the West in 2015 with an 88-74 record. They lost rather controversially in the first round of the playoffs, though it was no doubt a successful season.

Hamels shined with a 7-1 record over 12 starts after joining Texas. Diekman turned his 5.15 ERA with the Phillies into a 2.08 ERA to close the year with the Rangers.

Time would tell what Philadelphia got out of the trade. Excitement certainly initiated, however, as the organization received the Rangers’ #2, #4, #8, #14, and #20 prospects. Catcher Jorge Alfaro ranked 30th among MLB’s top 100 prospects and outfielder Nick Williams ranked 83rd. Pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff concluded the list of new-addition-youngsters to the Phillies.

Presently, Cole Hamels is pitching for the Atlanta Braves and Jake Diekman the Oakland Athletics. Jorge Alfaro catches for the Marlins, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff are non-roster invitees for other teams, Alec Asher is in the minors with the Brewers, and Nick Williams still gets spotty time in the Philly outfield. Oh, and Matt Harrison is long-retired.

Frankly, the Philadelphia Phillies got extremely little out of the trade. Without argument, none of the prospects in the deal contributed anything noteworthy. Each at least played for the Phillies at some point, but their time was short-lived. Williams’ 290 games and counting with Philadelphia are by far the most of the quintet, but his playing chances are barely hanging on now that Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen have taken over in the outfield.

In a roundabout way, J.T. Realmuto is what’s left of the deal. The Phillies flipped Jorge Alfaro and top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez for the league’s top hitting catcher last winter. Philadelphia missed the playoffs despite Realmuto’s strong first season with the club.

They must make the playoffs in a presumed shortened season for the trade to pay off, as Realmuto is set for free agency come the end of the year. In other words, the Phillies are up against it with the Realmuto trade as well.

The Texas Rangers didn’t grasp the glory that they strived for with Hamels and Diekman aboard, but they far and away got the better of the deal. Hamels accomplished a .657 winning percentage over 88 starts with Texas. He fulfilled his role as the team’s ace and factored greatly in the organization’s paths to the postseason in 2015 and 2016. If there was a disappointment during his Rangers’ tenure, it was his 0-2 record over three playoff starts.

Diekman became a household name among Texas Rangers fans. Perhaps the best seasons of his career came while repping “Texas” across his chest. The lean left-hander posted a collective 2.92 ERA with the Rangers, proving crucial to the backend of the bullpen all throughout.

Is either team worse off because of the trade? The Phillies could have received a different batch of prospects if trading Hamels elsewhere, but it definitely made sense to move his contract. Plus, the thing about prospects is you just never know what they’ll amount to; dealing for prospects is always a gamble. In the Phillies’ case, the return seemed promising at the point of decision.

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The Texas Rangers experienced good success with their pair of southpaws. Though, they did not get much in return for either Hamels nor Diekman when eventually trading them away. Furthermore, now that five years have played out, the front office can sleep soundly knowing the prospects given up in 2015 did not come back to haunt.