Where would the Texas Rangers be without Cole Hamels? They probably don't win the American League West pennant in 2015 without him, and they probably aren't leading the division this season either.
General manager Jon Daniels pulled off a brilliant trade with the Philadelphia Phillies almost a year ago, acquiring Hamels and reliever Jake Diekman for Matt Harrison and five prospects.
Who won the trade? Right now, the Rangers won the trade and it's not even close. Hamels is 17-3 during parts of two seasons with Texas, and Diekman's ERA is under 3 during the same stretch. What about the players the Rangers gave up?
Matt Harrison: Sadly, Harrison is still dealing with back issues. He hasn't thrown a single pitch for the Phillies, and that includes the minor leagues. Harrison's last outing with July 27, 2015, when he was still with the Rangers and days before the trade. There's no indication that Harrison is close to returning and his career might be over.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Jorge Alfaro: The catcher was one of the most important pieces in the deal, and a guy the Rangers had a tough time giving to the Phillies. Alfaro was one of the Rangers' top prospects and he's one of Philadelphia's now after a strong start to 2016. Playing for the Phillies' Double-A team, Alfaro is batting .291 with 11 home runs and 48 runs batted in.
Nick Williams: The outfielder is having a solid year for Philadelphia's Triple-A team. Williams and current Ranger Nomar Mazara were teammates in Double-A Frisco when the trade was made, and many thought Mazara was the guy who had to be in the deal. Williams has a lot of upside, but not like Mazara who is a contender for American League rookie of the year. Williams .289 with nine home runs and 47 runs batted in and is considered a Top-3 prospect in Philadelphia's farm system. He was recently benched for a lack of hustle, but has played well since.
Jake Thompson: This 22-year-old DFW native is one of the more promising prospects in the Phillies' farm system and is likely their top pitching prospect. At some point in 2016, he'll make his major league debut. For Philadelphia's Triple-A team, Thompson is 9-5 and with a 2.29 ERA. The Rangers originally acquired Thompson from the Tigers in the Joakim Soria deal.
Alec Asher: He's currently serving an 80-game suspension for PED use. Asher started seven games for the Phillies to end the 2015 season, but struggled. He went 0-6 with an ERA of 9.31. Before the suspension, he pitched well in his eight starts between Double-A and Triple-A.
Jerad Eickhoff: The pitcher is in the Phillies' starting rotation currently and he's throwing well. However, his win-loss record is ugly. Eickhoff is 6-11 this season with an ERA under 4. The 26-year-old has secured a spot in the rotation for this season and has a future with Philadelphia.