After losing almost all of the 2020 season to a shoulder injury, Cole Hamels remained on the free agent market for months recuperating. Upon returning to health, he signed a major league contract with the Dodgers earlier this month. Just a few weeks later, renewed shoulder pain during his ramp-up work ended his 2021 season before it began.
In the wake of that latest setback, it was fair to wonder whether Hamels would contemplate retirement. That won’t be the case, however, as Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (Twitter link) reports that the 37-year-old intends to make another comeback effort.
There’s no specific timetable for Hamels’ return from this latest injury. He’ll reach free agency at the end of the season and will presumably need to conduct at least one showcase for potential suitors whenever he’s healthy. His form in those looks could well determine whether Hamels will be able to land a big league deal again this time around.
The odds of Hamels returning to his All-Star peak form are very low, but it’s not inconceivable he could yet be a decent back-of-the-rotation option. Before these last couple years, Hamels was one of the game’s most durable arms. The southpaw rather remarkably made twenty or more starts and tallied 130+ innings in every season from 2006-19. And during his most recent healthy season, Hamels was still quite productive. With the Cubs in 2019, he worked to a 3.81 ERA over 141 2/3 frames. Given that Hamels has been an exemplar of consistency for the majority of his career and was still capable of performing well when last physically able to pitch, it’s not hard to understand his impulse to try and make another run in 2022.