Cole Hamels Rumors
- The Phillies will have a tough time re-signing Cole Hamels at anything less than full market value, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, as GM Ruben Amaro has rewarded big contracts to both under-control players like Ryan Howard, and free agents such as Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins.
- Within the same piece, Amaro addressed the signing of Papelbon this offseason, saying the club regarded Pap slightly higher than the incumbent Ryan Madson, who eventually signed with the Reds for far less. “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.”
- Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, 40 in April, said 2012 may not be his final season, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jones is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, but his deal includes a $7MM club option that will vest to $9MM if he plays in 123 games. “As long as I stay healthy and I’m having fun, I’m going to keep going. I sit here with three weeks to go before spring training and I’m not ready to say this is it.”
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson wants Bryce Harper to start the season as Washington's right fielder, hears Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That seems like an aggressive approach to me, but it would create quite a bit of buzz in Washington -- and in baseball, in general.
Cole Hamels now owns the second-largest salary in arbitration history ($15MM), and he's not stopping there. Agent John Boggs expects his client to be compensated as an "elite pitcher," and he doesn't consider Jered Weaver's team-friendly five-year, $85MM deal a factor. Explained Boggs to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
"I don't think it's a parallel. That contract is great for Jered. I understand it. But he took a different path and left a lot of money on the table. He came up through the Angels system and grew up in their backyard. He's pitching where he grew up. That situation appeals to him. It's a similar situation to when I had Tony Gwynn. Without getting into specifics of what we're looking for, the Weaver situation is unique to Weaver."
Weaver's contract covered his final arbitration year and then four free agent seasons at an average of $17.5MM. Unlike Weaver, Hamels was a Super Two player, and the salary of his final arbitration year has already been determined. Hamels' new contract will probably only cover free agent years. Even if he doesn't reach the $23-24MM range of C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, I think six years and $120MM is just a starting point for Hamels, who will turn 29 during the 2012-13 offseason.
The Phillies have first dibs. According to Boggs, "When you're this close [to free-agency] you have mixed emotions. But Cole has come through the Phillies organization, and if you asked him his preference, more than likely he'd want to remain with the Phillies. That's how it would be going into the negotiations, but every negotiation is different. Everything depends on our perceived value of what Cole is worth and what their perceived value of him is. That will dictate if a long-term deal gets done. We'll always give the Phillies every opportunity to secure him."
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.
- One scout guaranteed to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that at least five teams will claim Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is now on waivers (Twitter link).
- The Mets are close to finalizing the sale of at least five $20MM shares in the team, according to Andy Martino, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. MLB has approved the potential investors, so the Mets should raise more than $100MM within the month, the Daily News reports.
- Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock said on Comcast SportsNet that the team has had discussions with Cole Hamels and expects to sign him to a one-year deal, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. I discussed a possible extension for Hamels last month. The left-hander will be eligible for free agency following the 2012 season.
When MLBTR's Tim Dierkes listed the most surprising trades of the offseason last week, NL West clubs showed up in four of the six. The West, which has seen all five teams earn playoff spots since 2006, is once again difficult to figure out heading into the spring, writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports. As the division's residents continue to make moves in hopes of contending, here are the latest NL West updates:
- The Disney family has partnered with Stanley Gold and will make a bid for the Dodgers, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. With a handful of deep-pocketed bidders already in contention for the franchise, Shaikin says current owner Frank McCourt believes the sale could exceed $1.6 billion.
- Within his ESPN.com Insider blog, Buster Olney says the competition is good news for Dodgers fans, since no one who commits that type of money to purchase the franchise will "let it rot with a modest payroll." Cole Hamels should also be excited, Olney adds, implying the Dodgers could be in position to make the southpaw a significant offer if he becomes a free agent next winter.
- The Rockies, who we know have talked to Brad Lidge this offseason, are still interested in the Denver-area native, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. However, due to Lidge's injuries last year, Colorado only has interest "at minimal risk." Presumbly a deal heavy on incentives would be the Rockies' preference.
Cole Hamels turns 28 today and by the time he turns 29 there’s a good chance he’ll have signed a new contract -- either with the Phillies or as a free agent. The left-hander is one season away from hitting free agency for the first time in his career, so an extension with the Phillies is possible. Hamels has said he’d like to stay in Philadelphia and the Phillies have the need and resources to keep him in place.
Hamels was born nine months before Matt Cain and drafted eight spots before the Giants right-hander. Both have distinguished themselves from the competition at the Major League level over the course of the past six seasons, but the question of which pitcher is more effective remains unanswered, as this comparison of their career stats shows.
Cain, the harder thrower, has more innings to his name, more 200 inning seasons and a slight edge in career wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. Hamels, who has the shinier win-loss record, induces more ground balls and has struck out more hitters per inning while allowing fewer walks.
When MLBTR’s Luke Adams examined a possible extension for Cain two days ago, he pointed out that the going rate for elite arms on long term deals falls in the $20MM per season range. Hamels hasn’t won a Cy Young Award like teammates Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, so a contract north of $20MM may not be realistic at this point, when only one team -- the Phillies -- can bid. However, the Phils had the biggest payroll in the National League this past season, so it’s not as though they’ll have to ask Hamels for a hometown discount.
The Giants and Phillies valued Cain and Hamels similarly when they drafted them eight spots apart from one another nearly a decade ago. Even though the two high schoolers have since become some of the game’s best pitchers, their value relative to one another remains similar. A five-year, $100MM contract could work for Hamels and the Phillies, just as it could work for Cain and the Giants.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates a 2012 salary of $14MM for Hamels through arbitration. Four free agent seasons at $20MM per year and a $5MM buyout for an option year would bring the value of a possible deal to the $100MM range. It’s probably less than what Hamels, a John Boggs and Associates client, could obtain on the open market if he delivers another strong season in 2012. But it would provide the left-hander with security and the opportunity to hit free agency again at the age of 32 -- the same age Lee was when he signed for $120MM last offseason.
If there's one pitcher who's more comparable to Hamels than Cain, it's Jered Weaver, the Angels right-hander who signed a team-friendly five-year $85MM extension during the 2011 season. Baseball-Reference says Hamels and Weaver are each other's top statistical comparables, which means the Phillies can argue Hamels should earn $17.5MM per free agent season, just as Weaver will. However, Hamels has bargaining power since he's closer to free agency than Weaver was last summer and is starting from a higher 2011 salary. Plus, Hamels is a year younger than Weaver and his resume includes 13 excellent postseason starts and a World Series MVP award.
Hamels’ injury history could give the Phillies pause. He struggled with injuries as a minor leaguer and early in his MLB career, spent time on the 15-day DL this August due to left shoulder inflammation and had a hernia repaired and loose bodies removed from his pitching elbow after the season. To his credit, he has averaged 31 starts and 206 innings since 2007, his first full season in the Phillies' rotation.
While the Phillies might balk at the possibility of a rotation that includes three $20MM pitchers, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. spent upwards of $65MM on Philadelphia’s rotation this past season, proving his willingness to commit to starters. The club won 102 games behind a historically good pitching staff in 2011, so it won’t be a surprise if ownership is willing to spend on future rotations.
Now that the Phillies have addressed most of their offseason needs, the front office can focus on the possibility of an extension for Hamels over the course of the next few months. Don’t be surprised if five years and $100MM works for both sides. If not, Hamels will enter the 2012 season with the chance to become the most coveted pitcher of the 2012-13 offseason.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expects to discuss a possible extension with left-hander Cole Hamels at some point this offseason, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here are more notes on Hamels and the Phillies via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Daily News:
- "I have got no indication that Cole wants to go anywhere and I think Cole knows we want to keep him," Amaro said, according to Berman. Hamels, 27, posted a 2.79 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 52.3% ground ball rate in 215 innings this past season. The John Boggs & Associates client is set to hit free agency after the 2012 season (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $14MM salary for Hamels in his final season of arbitration eligibility).
- Amaro re-signed Jimmy Rollins recently, but he still thinks 22-year-old shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis is a “very, very good quality prospect.”
- Ryan Howard seems to be recovering well from his ruptured Achilles' tendon, Amaro said. The first baseman will likely go to Florida to continue his rehab at some point in the relatively near future.
Ed Wade is heading back to the NL East after four years in Houston. Here are more links from the division, starting with Wade’s longtime team...
- Mark DeRosa says he's interested in playing for the Nationals, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter links). However, other teams are interested and DeRosa is not close to making a decision.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says he's comfortable heading into Spring Training with the team he has, according to Paul Hagen of MLB.com. The Phillies have already made major free agent signings, added complementary players such as Laynce Nix, Jim Thome and Dontrelle Willis and signed players to minor league deals, as our Free Agent Tracker shows.
- Those who know Cole Hamels doubt he would give the Phillies much of a discount on a potential extension, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The 27-year-old John Boggs & Associates client posted a 2.79 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 52.3% ground ball rate in 215 innings this past season. He's set to hit free agency after the 2012 season (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $14MM salary for Hamels in his final season of arbitration eligibility).
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com shows that the Mets already have a projected payroll in the $90MM range. GM Sandy Alderson has suggested the team's payroll could be less than $100MM, so the Mets may not have much offseason shopping remaining.
- The Mets are interested in catcher Luis Martinez, who was designated for assignment by the Padres on Sunday, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter). The 26-year-old hit .203/.309/.305 in 68 plate appearances with the Padres this past season.
- The Braves and Rockies have continued discussing a possible deal that would send Seth Smith to Atlanta for Martin Prado, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding. The Braves appear to be seeing what they can get for Jair Jurrjens first, however. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports examined possible suitors for Smith earlier today, including the Braves despite their preference for a right-handed hitter.
- The Red Sox may only be able to take on a very limited amount of payroll for a number of reasons, and Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the rundown.
- The Phillies have not had any extension talks with Cole Hamels, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Still, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler says there's a strong expectation on both sides that a deal will eventually get done.
- In his "10 Degrees" column for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan calls the former small-market Marlins' outbidding of the Mets for Reyes "bizarro baseball," opines that Reyes at his best is better offensively than Carl Crawford, and runs down a number of other big name free agents and hot stove issues.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News breaks down Laynce Nix's two-year deal with the Phillies, but has difficulty finding the logic behind the signing.
- Jimmy Rollins is the Phillies' top priority at the Winter Meetings, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Other than that, however, Brookover finds it unlikely that the Phils will make a big splash this week.
- In his latest blog, MLB.com's Bill Chastain says he doesn't think the Rays will be in on Manny Ramirez, he expects B.J. Upton to stay put, and he a "big part of him" still believes Johnny Damon could return to Tampa despite reported interest from the Orioles.
- New Orioles special assistant Lee Thomas told reporters, including Steve Melewski of MASNSports, that other teams "missed the boat" on GM Dan Duquette.
A few stray items out of the NL East to share ...
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he's not looking to trade lefty Cole Hamels, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. That Hamels remains unsigned entering his final year of team control is not indicative of the Phillies' plans for him, according to Amaro: "Cole is homegrown," Amaro said. "He's a guy we would like to keep. We're not up against it right now. We have time to deal with it. Cole is a priority, but we have time to deal with it."
- The Mets have commitments from investors to buy roughly seven shares of the franchise at $20MM apiece, a source tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. That's about $140MM of the $200MM the Mets were hoping to raise, although Rubin reports the Mets will be content with what they've sold so far if no further deals come to fruition.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria asserts that he is serious about bidding for high-priced free agents like Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com: "All you have to do is look at (new) ballpark and you won't even ask those questions." However, based on their bid for Pujols, Jon Heyman of SI.com continues to hear that Miami is not considered a serious player for the prize of this offseason's free agent class (via Twitter).
- Also, Loria is confident that shortstop Hanley Ramirez would move to another position if the Marlins were to acquire another shortstop, tweets Rosenthal.