Cubs picking up Cole Hamels $20 million option, trading Drew Smyly

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CHICAGO – Cole Hamels is coming back to the North Side.

The Cubs are picking up Hamels’ $20 million option Friday and trading Drew Smyly to the Texas Rangers in a corresponding move.

If the Cubs decided to decline Hamels’ option, the Rangers would have owed him $6 million. Drew Smyly, who did not pitch at all last year, is due $7 million in 2019 plus a potential $6 million in performance bonuses. By sending Smyly to Texas, the Cubs are essentially holding on to Hamels for $13 million.

Theo Epstein and company could have tried to negotiate a new deal with Hamels, but they’re just happy to keep him in the rotation.

“Cole was such a breath of fresh air for us,” Epstein noted at the end of the season. “He made an unbelievable impression.”

He’s a pro’s pro. He contributed tremendously on the field and off the field. He was great – an engaged, positive, accountable presence in that clubhouse who cares about his teammates and helps make them better.”

Hamels turns 35 in December, but went 4-3 in his 12 starts with the Cubs last year, racking up 74 strikeouts and a 2.36 ERA.

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