It's official: The Phillies have traded Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Texas Rangers for six players.
Word of the trade initially came out late Wednesday night, but a deal involving so many players and so much money changing hands is complex in nature and took time to finalize.
Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Hamels spoke at press conferences today. Amaro referenced the difficulty of rebuilding and moving on from players that have had so much success with the organization.
"There is nothing at all easy about any of these decisions and trades," Amaro said. "Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels — they’re difficult because these are iconic players for our organization but this is exactly what we set out to do. We got a very good package of players that I think will help propel this organization forward in the future."
Hamels said he was ready for his "new baseball chapter," but spoke glowingly of the place that drafted him and gave him the opportunity to win a World Series.
"When we go to take that parade down Broad Street and see what it really meant to the fans here," Hamels said. "I can't thank you [enough] for that. It's been one the most joyous experiences that not only myself, but family has been able to be a part of."
Hamels will start for the Rangers Saturday in Texas against the Giants. In 10 seasons as a Phillie, Hamels went 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA.
The Phillies receive catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff, and veteran lefty Matt Harrison.
Harrison the only one with big-league experience. Asher and Eickhoff had been pitching at Triple A. Williams and Thompson were at Double A in the Rangers' system. Alfaro had also been at Double A before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. According to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, Alfaro could play again this season.
Amaro called Alfaro and Williams "premium prospects." He also brought up the possibility that Alfaro could switch to another position if catching proves too troublesome on his ankle.
"One of the things that is of risk is that because it is an ankle and because he plays that position where they say he is flexed all the time with that ankle, but we don’t think it is going to be a long-term issue because it was an acute injury," Amaro said of Alfaro. "Actually, he was leading off second base and I think he just twisted it in a weird way, I think he damaged a ligament sheath. I’m not a doctor so I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but we felt comfortable enough to go ahead and move forward without feeling that it is going to be a long-term issue for him as a catcher.
"We did get him as a catcher. The beauty of Alfaro is that this guy can swing the bat and is so athletic that he can play another position if the catching thing doesn’t work out. But he’s made great strides over the last few years, particularly with his work behind the plate, and we hope that he can impact us behind the plate."
The Phillies would not have been able to bring back this sort of prospect package had they not provided some financial relief to the Rangers. Between the money being sent to Texas in the deal and the money the Phillies are assuming by taking on Harrison's contract, they're subsidizing about half of Hamels' remaining contract.
"We’re in a world where teams are buying talent," Amaro said. "This is one of the ways that we can use our economic muscle to buy talent, and I think that in a lot of ways that’s what we did. But we bought talent with talent, and we bought talent with dollars and cents as well. These are things that have to get approved by our ownership group, that Pat (Gillick) has to approve, and these are not simple or easy but based on all of the information that we had with the package that we ended up getting, I think we used our money wisely."