ARLINGTON -- Three-time All-Star pitcher Cole Hamels was hoping to be traded to a contending team before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. He believes that is what happened when the Phillies traded him to the Rangers in a deal that was finally announced on Friday.
Hamels' previous experience with the Phillies reinforces that. The Phillies were seven games out of first place on Aug. 25, 2007, and still won the National League East title. In 2008, they were 3 1/2 games out with 16 to play and ended up winning not only the division title but the World Series as well.
The Rangers may have completed the eight-player deal with the Phillies because they envision having Hamels at the head of their rotation for the next three seasons beyond 2015. But Hamels will be focused on 2015 when he makes his first start for the Rangers on Saturday night against the Giants.
"There's still a chance, and I like knowing that," Hamels said. "I know I can help be a part of that for the Rangers, and that's what I'll look to do. ... I just want to be a part of it and do what I can. My expectations are to go out there and win ballgames."
Hamels was acquired from the Phillies along with reliever Jake Diekman for five quality prospects and veteran pitcher Matt Harrison. On Saturday night, he will be making his first start since throwing a no-hitter for the Phillies against the Cubs last Saturday in Wrigley Field.
"If I can create a winning streak and start to win some decisive games, then that's what I want to be a part of," Hamels said. "As much as all the work they've put in this year that I haven't been a part of, I'm not going to try and come in and solve everything. I'm just going to be what I can out on the field, and enjoy the moment, too."
The Rangers went into Friday's game with the Giants at 49-52, in third place in the American League West, eight games behind the first-place Astros. They were four games behind in the AL Wild Card standings, with seven teams in front of them.
"I have said this before," general manager Jon Daniels said. "This club has the ability to make a run. It's not going to be easy. Houston has gotten better, the Angels have gotten better, there are other teams in the Wild Card race. I feel we are one of them. All the criteria of health and timing play into it."
But whether it is for this season or the next three years, the Rangers feel they have landed pitcher who has been at the front end of the rotation on five straight division championship teams. That includes the 2008 Phillies team that won the World Series. Hamels was the Most Valuable Player of both the NLCS and the World Series.
To give up Hamels, the Rangers traded Harrison and Minor League catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams and pitchers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher.
"You're talking about one of the best pitchers in the game, under control (through 2018), who wants to be here," Daniels said. "The work ethic, consistency, performance, the fact that we were able to structure the deal as we did, and made it financially work for us, that was a big piece. It worked out well with Philadelphia, because they were motivated less by dollars and more by the talent we had.
"You put young players in these deals, that's not an easy thing to do. These guys are going to play in the big leagues for Philadelphia. They are. That's not a matter of if; they're going to. They're good, they're talented, they're good makeup guys, and I wish them well."
Hamels, who was 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts for the Phillies, was the 17th overall pick in the 2002 Draft out of Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School and made his Major League debut for the Phillies in 2006. He has a career record of 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA.
Since the beginning of the 2007 season, he ranks 12th among all pitchers with a 3.24 ERA, sixth with a 1.14 WHIP and eighth with 3.83 strikeouts per walk. He is 12th with 8.51 strikeouts per nine innings.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister watched Hamels for many years in the NL and saw the "consistency, the competitor, the stuff, a tough guy on the mound. The hitters never get a good look. This is a guy whose body of work over time shows you he is winner. You see it from the other dugout. He made it tough on us."
Hamels is signed through 2018 at $22.5 million annually. There is also a club option for '19 at $20 million, with a $6 million buyout. The Phillies agreed to include $9.5 million to help offset Hamels' contract, and they also were willing to include Harrison in the deal.
Harrison is signed at $13 million annually through 2017, with a club option for '18. He has made just nine starts over the past three years because of back issues but is healthy again. Going to Philadelphia gives him a chance to continue his comeback.
"Philly was looking for talent, but also depth," Daniels said. "I think Matt gives them an option in the rotation and allows them to stay out of the free-agent market for somebody like him.
"And then there's also the financial part of the whole thing, and balancing contracts and the whole deal. That's hard, because that's kind of the business side, the cold side of the deal, so to speak. When you like somebody as much as we all felt with Matt, but that's the reality of it. ... Trying to balance some of the dollars."