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Everyone's focused on what Cole Hamels will make in five years. It's probably a better idea to look at the deal one season at a time.
From 2008 through today, here are the five best National League pitchers, measured by Wins Above Replacement:
Considering Lincecum's struggles and Johnson's various injuries, you might certainly argue that Hamels is one of the league's three best starters in his 20s, with Stephen Strasburg joining that group once he's pitched long enough to prove he's completely healthy for a while.
In the press conference, Hamels said a great deal about how much he loves the game, and the fans in Philadelphia; it was those fans, more than anything else, that made him want to stay with the Phillies.*
* Sorry about the lack of quotes, but Hamels mangles grammar to the point where I couldn't really find a quote that I thought you would want to read.
Obviously, $24 million per season is a great deal of money. That's the going rate these days for premier pitchers these days, though. The riskier figure is six years; as we've seen so many times, there just aren't many pitchers who can stay healthy for six seasons. On the other hand, Hamels has already been healthy for roughly seven seasons. Does that mean he's significantly more likely to make it through another six without a serious problem?
That's a good question.
When Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked what made him "comfortable" going six years on Hamels' contract, he smiled and said, "I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable, but we felt like it was the right thing to do under the circumstance, with his performance, his age, the importance on our club ... Our goal is to try to continue to be a championship-caliber team for now, and for the future. And so, as I said before, and I've said it publicly, several times, we have a much better chance with Cole in our rotation, and as a major part of our club, than without him."
Which is true, in the abstract. And maybe the Phillies' financial resources are functionally limitless. When they committed so much money to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard, there was much speculation that they wouldn't be able to pay Cole Hamels what it would take to keep him.
But now they have.
If you thought your team might acquire lefthander Cole Hamels from the Phillies before the non-waiver deadline, or next winter through free agency, scratch him off your list, because he has signed a six-year contract extension with the Phils, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension that will be announced at a noon ET press conference today at Citizens Bank Park, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.
The person, unauthorized to speak publicly before the press conference, said the deal will also include a vesting option for a seventh year that could make the contract worth in excess of $160 million.
Nightengale goes on to say that the deal is the biggest in the history of the Phillies, and the second-largest deal to a pitcher in the history of baseball; only the Yankees’ latest contract with CC Sabathia is larger.
It might not help the Phillies this season — they still stand far out of contention despite winning seven of their last 10 — but this contract shows their commitment to winning again in the near future.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels will soon be off the trade market and the impending free-agent list once he signs a six-year contract extension in excess of $137.5 million with the club, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The contract will make him the second-highest-paid pitcher, behind only the New York Yankees' CC Sabathia.
In recent weeks, it became a real possibility that the Phillies would re-sign the 28-year-old southpaw -- despite much trade speculation. The Texas Rangers had reportedly been pursuing Hamels, but reports of Philadelphia seriously negotiating a new deal emerged at the same time. This new contract, once it is signed, will be worth over $10 million more than the deal Matt Cain signed with the San Francisco Giants at the start of the 2012 season.
Hamels is 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 19 starts this season.
It’s now just eight days until the non-waiver trade deadline, July 31, and soon the Phillies will have to either get Cole Hamels signed to the six-year, (approximately) $127.5 million dollar deal they’ve offered him, or get him traded before he leaves at the end of the season via free agency.
It could go either way, says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:
Hamels has publicly expressed his fondness for playing in Philadelphia and his willingness to sign a long-term deal with the Phillies. He has even said he’s open to returning to the Phillies as a free agent this offseason if the team trades him before the deadline.
But people close to Hamels said he was resigned to testing free agency until the Phillies put on a strong rush to re-sign him earlier this month, and part of him is intrigued by the thought of going on the open market and seeing what opportunities might await. Hamels conceded that was the case during a recent interview with Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia.
Crasnick quoted a source as saying the negotiations between Hamels and the team are entering a “sensitive” stage. That could mean one of a number of things, and so the bottom line is: we wait.
The club is now offering Hamels six years guaranteed, leaving only the dollar amount to be negotiated, major-league sources say.
The money in a six-year extension for Hamels almost certainly would exceed the $127.5 million that the Giants recently gave right-hander Matt Cain.
This is by no means a done deal. Rosenthal points out that Hamels could reject the offer and head to free agency. If that happens, the Phillies could still deal Hamels before the non-waiver trade deadline 11 days from now.
The Phillies are struggling this season due to injuries, so keeping Hamels isn’t likely to put them on any postseason run. But signing him to a long-term extension sends a message that the Phillies intend to quickly reload so they can contend in 2013 and beyond.
Some of the words used in Jayson Stark's latest article about the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels: "Intensify," "picked up the pace," "major push," "priority." Words not used: "hot," "heavy," "the fulcrum of the Phillies' existence." But they were implied.
The Phillies have a lot of money tied up in the long term to win in the short term, and apparently they've come to the conclusion that a short term without Cole Hamels isn't something worth considering.
"They want to sign him, and that's their priority," said an official of one club that spoke with the Phillies' brass this week. "They're really not even entertaining (trade) offers at this point."
The previous sticking point with the Phillies to this point has been more about the length of the contract rather than the annual amount, but following the five-year extension to Matt Cain (which started after the 2012 season), the Phillies realized they weren't going to get anything close to the four-year extension they offered him in the offseason.
At +81, the Texas Rangers have the best run differential in the major leagues. However, the morning of May 29, the Rangers had a run differential of +92, so clearly things have been a bit of a struggle of late as hitters have regressed and pitchers have gotten injured. With the trade deadline looming, are the Rangers looking for a boost? You bet your trousers they are! A pretty substantial one, writes Danny Knobler:
The Rangers have lost the last two World Series, and they believe their best chance of getting back and winning it is to add a true ace atop their rotation. They have focused primarily on Hamels and secondarily on Greinke, but there's no guarantee that they can get either one.
Knobler writes a lot about the Rangers re-connecting with Cliff Lee, but that's basically speculation so we can ignore it for now. There's more meat to the Hamels and Greinke rumors, as the Rangers would like to add an ace to the front of their rotation down the stretch. As far as Hamels is concerned, he could become available, although the Phillies are reportedly trying to re-sign him. Greinke also isn't readily available on the market, as the Brewers are on the fringes of the race, but if they don't make up more room quick then Greinke could get moved somewhere for a haul.
Plenty of teams want things they never get. The Rangers might reach August without having added a starting pitcher of considerable value, if they add a starter at all. But don't think the Rangers won't sniff around the most expensive cheeses. They are a people of wealth, and of exceptional taste.
The Phillies are sending signals that they are planning to make an initial offer to star lefthanded pitcher Cole Hamels for about $130 million over six years within the next few days, sources familiar with the team’s thinking told CBSSports.com.
The length of the deal and the amount are said to be similar to what Matt Cain got from the San Francisco Giants — $112.5 million over a five-year extension, plus the $15 million Cain had already in this year’s deal, totalling $127.5 million over six seasons.
Cain is a great pitcher. So is Hamels. But the Phillies have struggled this year, and with them growing old, they might not be as good as the Giants in the near term, which is what Hamels might be thinking.
Whatever happens, it’s likely to happen soon:
The Phillies want to have a resolution to the Hamels situation within a week or so because if they can’t extend Hamels they will want to have the option to trade him by the July 31 trade deadline. The Rangers, Angels, Dodgers and many other teams will be interested if he’s available in trade.
We, as always, await developments, and they could come quickly.
Cole Hamels has been the frequent subject of trade rumors recently, but if the Phillies have their way, Hamels will be in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. The Phillies are preparing a substantial contract offer for Hamels, according to a report from ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Instead of trading Hamels for a pile of top prospects, Philadelphia is looking to sign him to an extension within the next two weeks. The 28-year-old left-hander is in the final year of his contract and will not come cheap. Matt Cain signed a five-year $112.5 million extension earlier this spring and it might take as much or more to lock up Hamels.
Despite an already high payroll, which includes multiple $100 million contracts, the Phillies are apparently confident they will reach a deal with Hamels.
"They're trying to sign him," said one of those executives. "And they think it's going to happen. At least that's what I was told."
What the Phillies have no way of knowing, for now, is whether Hamels shares their optimism.
Should the Phillies explore a Cliff Lee trade? Well, no, but here's why you'd even ask such a stupid question.
The Philadelphia Phillies, as you know, haven't played as well as they would've liked through the season's first half, and Cole Hamels, as you know, is a pending free agent. Contract extension negotiations between the two sides haven't progressed all that far and so one was free to wonder whether the Phillies might take the bold step of making Hamels available on the midseason trade market.
The reported answer? Sort of!
The Phillies dropped a bomb on the trade market when they recently began making calls to see about trade interest in Cole Hamels, CBSSports.com has learned.
Other clubs think the Phillies would have a really tough time getting anything close to their asking trade price of 4-5 prospects for Hamels— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 2, 2012
Cole Hamels could be traded for. Literally anybody could be traded for at the right price, and the right price for Cole Hamels right now is absurd. Nobody will pay that price, so Hamels is available and not. For now.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro insists the goal is still to sign Hamels long-term. Presumably the Phillies aren't finished trying to do that, even if Hamels might think a little different about the Phillies' situation than he did some months back. Amaro would like to lock Hamels up, and previous reports have suggested the issue is not money but contract length. At the same time, it would be stupid of Amaro not to measure market demand for his ace lefty. There's no benefit to making Hamels completely untouchable so the latest news in the Hamels saga is hardly news at all.
Cole Hamels could be traded for! At his current price, he will not be traded for. His price could come down as the deadline approaches, but the Phillies aren't going to sell Hamels for less than they want to just yet.
It took a big deal to a little-known Cuban to make us realize that Cole Hamels has only one possible destination.
Are the Phillies really going to forge ahead without Cole Hamels? The answer now might be different than it was just a couple of months ago.
The last we heard from Cole Hamels, he was owning up to hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch on purpose. Hamels was suspended five days for his uncommon honesty, and he was so shaken up that upon his return to action on Sunday, he allowed a run to the Padres.
Given all of this other Cole Hamels news, then, it's been pretty easy to forget the original and important Cole Hamels news - he's a pending free agent who doesn't seem to be close to an extension agreement with the Phillies. What's the latest, Howard Eskin?
Just reported on Sports Final @NBCPhiladelphia that I'm told cole hamels agent has told Phillies they r looking for "7" year deal.— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) May 14, 2012
Cliff Lee was given a five-year contract with an option. Roy Halladay was given a three-year contract with an option. Ryan Howard was given a five-year contract with an option. Chase Utley was given a seven-year contract and now who knows what's going on with him. All along it's been reported that the Phillies are fine with Hamels' desired annual salary, but aren't so fine with his desired length. A seven-year contract would be quite a long contract.
An agreement could still be reached, obviously. Maybe Hamels would settle for six years and an option. Maybe the Phillies are willing to go to seven. Maybe anything. Hamels is 28 years old and his numbers so far this season are outstanding. One way or another, Cole Hamels is going to get paid. And as always, it's difficult to imagine him getting paid by someone other than the Phillies.
With Matt Cain signing a huge extension, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke have a pretty good idea of what they're worth now.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were recently purchased for more than two billion dollars. It's the most money that's ever been spent on a sports team, and Magic Johnson - the most visible part of the new ownership group - has said that he intends to begin recruiting free agents in the future the very second he can begin recruiting free agents.
Currently set to become a free agent next fall is one Cole Hamels. Hamels, who hails from San Diego, California. It's not hard to see Hamels leaving Philadelphia for Los Angeles, if Hamels and Philadelphia can't come to terms on an extension. About that, here's Ken Rosenthal:
There have been no substantive talks between the sides in the last three weeks. Hamels is unlikely to sign for less than market value - and market value for a left-hander of his caliber is five or six years at $20 million plus per season. The Phillies remain in a box. Hamels, 28, is the youngest of their aces. Lefty Cliff Lee turns 34 on Aug. 30, and righty Roy Halladay turns 35 on May 14..
Recently, it was reported that the Phillies know how much Hamels will cost per year, and that they can afford it. The issue is the number of years, with Hamels wanting more than the Phillies are willing to give. If that's true, it seems like there could be a compromise, maybe/probably with vesting options and the like, and we aren't exactly accustomed to the Phillies losing impact players, but as long as progress isn't being made, other suitors can lick their lips. That's gross, I'm sorry for writing that. Cole Hamels might become a free agent. Okay.
The headline of this article from Jim Salisbury reads "Hamels negotiations starting to heat up". I decided I didn't want to go that far, because all that's happening is that the Phillies and Hamels' agent are talking. To me, "heat up" implies significant progress. Anyway, that's not what's important. Some stuff:
John Boggs, Hamels' San Diego-based representative, is spending the week in the Clearwater area. He has already spoken to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and plans to again before heading back west. Hamels, of course, is eligible for free agency after the season.
Nobody's setting a deadline for an agreement. But during the season, of course, Hamels doesn't want to be distracted. Buster Olney reported that there was no movement in talks on Tuesday, which isn't a huge shock. I think, in the end, this is going to be pretty simple.
The Phillies have said that the money to re-sign Hamels is there. The issue is the contract length. Hamels is a free agent after the season, and he'll be 28 years old. He's looking to sign something lucrative and long. The Phillies can do the lucrative part, but they gave Cliff Lee five years with an option, and they gave Roy Halladay three years with an option. What if Hamels wants, say, seven years? Would he be willing to sign the Cliff Lee contract? Would the Phillies be willing to give him the Cliff Lee contract? Age is on Hamels' side, but pitchers are pitchers.
It's hard to see Cole Hamels leaving the Phillies for another team. Hamels is established in Philadelphia, and the Phillies generally don't let players get away. But if the Phillies don't want to go as long as Hamels wants to go, and if the Dodgers enter the market next fall flush with money...
You can find a lot of things in a box, at least according to popular culture. Brad Pitt wants to know what's in the box at the end of Seven. Justin Timberlake humbly requests that you open the box. And now, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal, we can picture the Phillies in a box:
But regardless of how one might assess those deals — (Ryan) Howard looks like a thumbs-down, (Cliff) Lee and (Jonathan) Papelbon are wait-and-sees — Amaro is in now in a box with left-hander Cole Hamels.
In this box, there is an ATM. But it's not a Citizens Bank ATM, so they're going to get dinged for all kinds of fees. Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies might not have enough money for Cole Hamels. The way they were spending money on Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, and Jonathan Papelbon, it made sense that there'd be a reserve fund, or an understanding that those moves weren't going to prevent the re-signing of Hamels
Instead, it looks like it could be an either/or situation. It was going to be either Lee or Hamels. Howard or Hamels. Uh, Papelbon or Hamels. There wasn't an unlimited budget at any point. And Amaro defends his decisions to Rosenthal:
"(Ryan Howard) was probably the most productive player during that span of anybody, including Pujols. This is not a slight against Cole — he has had some phenomenal years. But he is not the most decorated player in baseball."
That's why Amaro locked Howard up two years before he was a free agent, signing him to a five-year deal that didn't even kick in until a few months after Howard tore his ankle up making the last out of the Phillies' season. And he's right to say that Howard was more productive than Pujols if he's ranking players alphabetically by last name.
But you could almost see it for Howard. His platoon splits might prevent him ever becoming a truly elite hitter, but as a productive fan favorite, you can understand the urgency to lock him up. The baffling move of the last couple of offseasons, then, was the signing of Papelbon, which Amaro also defends:
"We didn’t just want any closer. The way our team is set up, we wanted the best guy, or one of the top two or three guys. We could have gotten a ‘B’ or ‘B-plus’ closer. But we wanted an ‘A.’ With (Papelbon), as good and as durable as he has been, I felt he was the right fit for us."
In theory, sure. Get the best guy; make the best team. But the Phillies aren't going to lose out on Cole Hamels because they're $50 million short of the winning offer. They won't miss out because they're $25 million short, most likely. So it's not a stretch to say that they'd choose Papelbon's short-term benefit to the team over Hamels' long-term benefit.
It's not a given that Hamels will leave. He might be likely to stay, even. The Phillies shouldn't get or expect a hometown discount, but there's still a great chance that he'll re-sign. But if he doesn't, if the Phillies let him go, they'll essentially have chosen a closer in 2012 over a front-line starter for beyond. They'll have other options for the rotation, of course. Some good ones you might have heard of. But it would still be a curious decision. And Amaro has no problem explaining why he might make it.
Cole Hamels is a pending free agent, but the Phillies aren't going to just let him go, right? Right?
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