Cole Hamels isn’t going anywhere. The left-hander agreed to a 6-year, $144 million contract to remain with the Phillies, ending speculation about the Phillies trading him before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Hamels would have been a free agent after this season. Although he has always expressed a desire to remain in Philadelphia, he has also made comments about everyone being interested in finding out their value on the free market.
“I understand free agency is great, the opportunities that are out there, the unknown,” Hamels said. “But I really do feel this is the place I call home and the place I want to call home for a really long time.
“I grew up watching Tony Gwynn play and he made San Diego his home for his entire career. And that’s ultimately what I want in Philadelphia.”
If the Phillies had been unable to sign Hamels, they may have traded him within the next week if they could get more value than the compensation draft picks that would have been awarded if he left via free agency at the end of the season and signed with another team.
Even if they had traded Hamels, the Phillies still could have signed him after the season. But locking him up before he got a taste of playing elsewhere was obviously preferable.
“Our goal is to continue to put a championship caliber team on the field now and in the future,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We think our chances of doing that are best with Cole instead of without him.”
Hamels cited the Phillies’ chances of winning, as well as how much he enjoys playing before appreciative Phillies fans — at Citizens Bank and on the road — as major reasons in his decision to remain a Phillie.
“I know (money) comes with it,” Hamels said, “but, ultimately, I play because I purely enjoy the game. I want to win. And I feel this is the best opportunity to win a championship again.”
With Hamels signed, the Phillies have a lot of money tied up in their starting pitching. The signing, therefore, does not mean the Phillies won’t be sellers at the trade deadline. They may trade Shane Victorino, who is eligible for free agency after this season, or Hunter Pence, who is eligible for arbitration again and may make more than the Phillies can pay without entering luxury tax territory.
Jimmy Rollins, who signed a three-year, $33 million contract during the offseason, is another player who could be traded if the Phillies can’t fit his salary in their budget due to the Hamels signing. Cliff Lee’s name has also come up in trade rumors.
With Hamels off the market, Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, who limited the Phillies to one run in seven innings Tuesday before the Brewers’ bullpen blew the game, becomes the top starting pitcher available at the trade deadline.
Hamels is 11-4 this season with a 3.23 ERA. During his seven seasons in the majors, all as a Phillie, Hamels is 85-58 with a 3.39 ERA. He also, of course, was the MVP of the 2008 World Series.