Phillies Avoid Arbitration With Cole Hamels

2:03pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today talked to Hamels' agent John Boggs, who said, "We thought about just going for it, and filing for a number [of about $17 million], but we thought this was fair. Our sights are now set on free agency. At some point, we'll talk to the Phillies about that.''  Noting the unpredictable nature of free agency, Boggs sang his client's praises and added, "Pitching is something everybody will always be clamoring for. That never changes."

11:15am: The Phillies avoided arbitration with Cole Hamels, agreeing to a $15MM deal with award incentives, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  MLBTR had projected $14MM for the John Boggs & Associates client, who received one of the largest arbitration settlements ever.  Three years ago Hamels signed a multiyear deal while leaving his last arbitration year open, and it enabled him to get a $5.5MM raise in his last year before free agency.

Excluding Roger Clemens' free agent arbitration salary, I believe only Prince Fielder's $15.5MM tops Hamels' reward.  Tim Lincecum is expected to jump to the top of the list.

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