Chicago Cubs: It was hardly a cut-and-dry decision
However, it would not be surprising to learn that Hamels wasn’t interested in an extension. Hamels’ option had a $6 million buyout if it wasn’t picked up. So if the left-hander could find a deal for over $14 million in 2019 he would have been paid more than his $20 million option as long as he didn’t agree to an extension.
What made the Cubs’ decision on picking up the option so complicated was that if they didn’t then the Rangers were going to pay $6 million buyout. But if the Cubs picked up his option, they were going to pay the entire $20 million themselves. Those were part of the conditions of the trade that brought Hamels to the Cubs.
That caused many to speculate that the Cubs should let Hamels become a free agent and get paid his $6 million buyout from the Rangers. Then the Cubs could turn around and be the team to pay Hamels over $14 million for 2019 (as part of a multi-year deal). That way Hamels gets paid more and the Cubs get to keep him for less than $20 million in 2019.