LEADING OFF: Hamels to Cubs, Escobar to Diamondbacks

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The Cubs were in agreement with the Rangers in a trade that would net Cole Hamels.

It was the third time in four July games he allowed seven runs, including at Baltimore when he got only two outs on 41 pitches on a day four runs were unearned. Maybe the Cubs will catch lightning in a bottle with Hamels leaving a hitter-friendly ballpark, facing National League lineups and feeling the adrenaline rush of the playoff chase.

Hamels is in the midst of perhaps the worst year of his career, going 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts with the Rangers. For his career, Hamels, a four-time all-star, is 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA in October and was the most valuable player of both the NL Championship Series and World Series in 2008 as the ace of the Phillies. His Rangers contract contained a partial no-trade clause, but the Cubs were not among the teams he could block.

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Hamels is owed the remainder of his $22.5 million salary for 2018 and has a $6 million buyout for 2019. He has pitched some really big games against teams I have been involved with. "He's a great competitor".

Butler, 27, was out of minor-league options. "But he just competes and he knows what he's doing out there, so I'd have to rank him as a pretty competent major league left-handed pitcher". The lefty said he wasn't sure yet when he would make his first start for Chicago. The Cubs selected him in the 11th round of the 2017 amateur draft. He has a 4.95 ERA and a 1.3 record in eight starts this season. On July 25, 2015, in his last start for Philadelphia before being traded to the Texas Rangers, Hamels no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

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