If Cole Hamels was auditioning for a summer deadline trade to the Yankees, he passed.
The 34-year-old southpaw tossed seven strong innings in the Texas Rangers’ 6-4 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park. He allowed just two solo home runs by rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar while striking out seven. In Hamels’ last four starts, his ERA is 1.88.
The Yankees entered Tuesday with at least eight extra-base hits — including four home runs — in three consecutive games. Since 1908, no Major League team had ever accomplished that feat.
But New York’s bats were shut down by a vintage performance from Hamels, and it left an impression on Aaron Boone.
“I thought he was really good,” the Yankees’ manager told NJ.com’s Randy Miller. “The cut fastball was a real weapon for him. He threw some good changeups. We knew we had a tough opponent in Hamels.”
Though the Yankees (31-14) haven’t grown accustomed to losing for over a month (22-5 record in last 27 games), their meeting with Hamels came at a convenient time. It’s become more apparent that the Yankees are in need of an additional starting pitcher — especially because the team received clunkers from Masahiro Tanaka and Domingo German in their last two games. German, a 25-year-old rookie, has filled in for left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery, who’s currently on the disabled list with an elbow strain.
Of the pitchers who will most likely become available at the July 31st deadline, Hamels is one of them. The 19-31 Rangers are in the basement of the AL West standings, and all signs point toward Texas selling off its few assets in the coming months. But Hamels won’t come cheap, even though he’s slightly past his prime. This season, Hamels will make $23 million, and in 2019, he’ll have a $20 million option or a $6 million buyout left on his contract.
Hamels is an arm worth considering for the Yankees. But the rumors swirling around baseball haven’t really caught Boone’s attention. After all, the deadline is still two months away.
“I’ve been hearing all that stuff,” said Boone, who was ejected for the first time as a big league skipper on Tuesday. “I don’t really think that’s very much on our radar right now. I don’t read into that or look into that. I just look at it as a good pitcher was able to beat us.”
It also comes as no surprise that Hamels, a four-time All-Star, feels the same way.
“It’s May,” Hamels told NJ.com. “There’s a lot of baseball, a lot of things could happen. I have a job to do, and it’s to win here. This is where I’ve wanted to be, I’ve got a lot of young guys that definitely need me to try to be more of a leader and teach them kind of the facets of the game, and that’s kind of what my focus is right now.
“All of the (trade) decisions are not up to me. The only decision I have in my hand is to throw the baseball and get guys out.”
However, Hamels has addressed the recent rumors. And he understands why Yankees fans have brought him up in conversation.
“Shoot, I helped them get a World Series in ‘09, so I’m sure they like me! No, no. I understand it,” Hamels told NJ.com in a Q&A session on Monday. “It’s kind of the nature of what happens and I think anytime you get traded once, you understand that the possibilities are there. And as you get older if you’re able to play well and keep of what I know I’m capable of doing, then it’s each year you could be on a different team hunting down a postseason. So it’s kind of the nature of where I think I am in my career and in the contract and in the situation.
“[The Yankees] have a tremendous team. So really looking at them, it’s some of the best baseball is now being able to watch the Yankees and Boston and I think that’s just exciting for baseball fans in general and the game and the scope of it now creates with that drama that they’ve always had in their history. It’s been good to see.”
Once the Rangers entertain offers for Hamels, the veteran lefty will have a voice in negotiations. His contract also includes a partial no-trade clause. He can turn down trades from 20 teams, and ironically, one of them happens to be the Yankees.
But Hamels, who told NJ.com that he wants to pitch into his 40’s, seems to be leaving all doors open. Plus, he’s started in just three postseason games since 2012.
“It’s just a list. Really, it’s just kind of like heads up. So I think what it really comes down to is it’s something that’s there,” Hamels said. “It just kind of provides a little bit more information, a little bit more bargaining power. That’s kind of really what that entails. But at the end of the day, situations kind of come up and I think everybody understands what can transpire. It’s just kind of a formality.
“I don’t think it’s anything that kind of needs to be looked into too deeply. I love it here [in Texas] and I’d love to be able to win here. But if management changes the direction, [getting traded] is just an opportunity to win and get to October. I think that’s the real baseball. That’s kind of where you test your skills the most.”
In 10 starts this season (58.2 innings), Hamels is 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA.