The Braves placed left-hander Cole Hamels on the 45-day injured list in order to open 40-man space for their previously announced selections of Matt Adams and Tyler Matzek, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets. The move can only be backdated three days, so Hamels will be out of action until at least early September while dealing with a triceps issue.
Certainly, that’s not the outcome the Braves had in mind when they signed Hamels to a one-year, $18MM contract over the winter. Hamels’ salary will be prorated to a bit north of $6.6MM under the terms of the March MLB/MLBPA agreement that stipulated prorated salaries for players in 2020.
With Hamels sidelined for more than half the truncated regular season, the Atlanta rotation unquestionably looks a bit less secure. Mike Soroka and Max Fried give the Braves a pair of high-end young talents to front the group, and both Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb have at times shown themselves capable of pitching at high levels as well. Both, however, have been inconsistent in recent years.
The Braves inked veteran righty Jhoulys Chacin to a one-year deal earlier this week and also have a bevy of intriguing young arms in their player pool, including Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Patrick Weigl and Bryse Wilson. Wright made the Opening Day roster and could begin the season as the team’s No. 5 starter, depending on the plan for Chacin, who largely replaces righty Felix Hernandez after the longtime Mariner opted out of the 2020 season.
Impressive depth aside, a healthy Hamels would’ve been a clear boon to the starting staff. Although he struggled late in the 2019 season, Hamels has acknowledged that he rushed back from an injury. And prior to his DL placement last June, he’d given the Cubs 29 starts and 176 innings of 2.91 ERA ball since being acquired at the 2018 trade deadline. In a best-case scenario now, the Braves would get a few weeks of starts out of Hamels and hope to lean on him throughout a postseason run if he shows well.