Phillies overall return for Cole Hamels looking worse

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 28: Nick Williams #5 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by Jorge Alfaro #38 after scoring a run in the ninth inning during a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Nationals won 5-4. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 28: Nick Williams #5 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by Jorge Alfaro #38 after scoring a run in the ninth inning during a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Nationals won 5-4. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Trading Cole Hamels was supposed to jump-start the Phillies rebuild, but four years later the return in the trade is looking rather pedestrian.

While watching the Phillies now may seem like a daunting task, it’s nothing compared to the 2015 Phillies. That team finished with the worst record in the league with Cody Asche, Jeff Francouer, and Aaron Harang all playing prominent roles. The current team may have its issues, but I would still take it in a heartbeat over watching that 2015 team.

One of the few highlights of the season was trading Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Rangers for multiple prospects that instantly became some of the best in the system. Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, and Jake Thompson were the headliners with Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher serving as supplementary pieces.

That trade was supposed to kick-start a rebuild that should have been started years prior, bringing in much-needed prospect talent that propelled the system to the top of the league. Unfortunately, with four years to evaluate the return of the trade, it looks much worse than initially anticipated.

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We’ll start with the players still on the team. Eickhoff has lost much of the last three seasons due to various injuries. He pitched in just 12 games this year, starting 10. With significant rotation upgrades expected this offseason, he will likely be one of the ones on the short end of the stick.

Williams already was on the short end of the stick due to additions thanks to the Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen signings last offseason. He has started just 15 major-league games this year, spending most of the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He was one of the club’s September call-ups, but he has made just one plate appearance this month. It’s looking increasingly likely that his time as a Phillie is over after this season.

Turning towards those not on the roster, Alfaro was easily the most productive part of the return for Hamels. He had a promising rookie season in 2018, but it still required adding top prospect Sixto Sanchez to make the trade for J.T. Realmuto happen. Alfaro’s inclusion in the deal certainly helped it occur, but he was by no means the main piece.

If you don’t recognize Asher’s name, I don’t blame you. He appeared in just 12 games as a Phillie, albeit pitching five games with a 2.28 ERA at the end of 2016. The team traded Asher to the Orioles for cash and he is now out of the league after spending time with the Orioles, Dodgers, Brewers, and Rockies.

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Meanwhile, Thompson was easily the biggest bust of the entire trade. He quickly became the best pitching prospect in the Phillies’ farm system after the trade, boasting an electric fastball and wipeout slider. However, he was never able to control his stuff and never played much of a factor for the team, posting a 4.87 ERA in 30 games between 2016, 2017, and 2018. He was designated for assignment last year and he is in the Tigers system now.

Overall, the best thing you can say about the Hamels trade is that it helped Philadelphia land Realmuto three and a half years later, but even then it wasn’t the sole reason. All in all, the team is reaping little reward from parting with one of their franchise cornerstones.

Next. Zach Eflin pushing to keep his job in 2020. dark

When trades like this don’t pan out, it forces the front office to rely on free agency to turn the team around.