Jon Lester (34) reacts against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals insist trades made them better. But did they?
The St Louis Cardinals were interested in Cole Hamels, but in the end, the fit didn’t make sense for the team or the player.
Before the trade deadline, it became increasingly clear that the St. Louis Cardinals would add a veteran starting pitcher — only in a small capacity. It’s why they were heavily connected to left-hander Cole Hamels and expressed strong interest after a showcase in the middle of June. But after adding lefties J.A. Happ and Jon Lester, the need for Hamels vanished.
Indeed, Hamels is in agreement on a major-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as first reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network, who adds that Hamels will earn $1 million guaranteed plus $200,000 per start.
It’s a deal that the Cardinals likely would have done, especially at that price range, and is essentially the equivalent of the Happ and Lester additions. But what likely drove the Cardinals to the latter pitchers over Hamels was that it will take him a month to ramp up to pitch on a major-league mound. Lester, meanwhile, made his Cardinals debut on Tuesday (though it was a struggle) and Happ shouldn’t be too far behind.
For a Cardinals team in need of immediate innings, Hamels not being able to take the mound right away was likely a significant deterrent. But for a Dodgers team that is in desperate need of starting pitchers, and firmly in contention to represent the National League in the World Series, Hamels makes all the sense in the world as someone who could either pitch out of the rotation or come out of the bullpen.
Still, it’s likely the Cardinals remained involved on at least some level in the Hamels sweepstakes. But his goal was to join a contender and, at the end of the day, that’s not what this team is. The Dodgers, meanwhile, represented the perfect opportunity — and he took it.
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