Free Agent Pitching and Keeping Cole Hamels

The talk surrounding a potential Cole Hamels trade is like rain hitting the window in Seattle. It will continue to downpour. I view the odds of a Hamels deal this summer as minute, there are relative options in free agency that are more expensive for sure, but don’t require giving up multiple top prospects in exchange for the 30 year old California native.

Almost everyone with vested interest is cognitive of Hamels’ contract terms. He is signed through the 2018 season and will make $22.5 million annually over the next four seasons. Hamels could also pitch through the 2019 season depending on his health and the Phillies plans.

“Cole is one of those guys in particular who can be a bridge to the future as well, because of the length of the contract, because of the quality of the pitcher.There’s no need to go out and move him, there’s no rush to go out and move him.” –Ruben Amaro, Jr.

The starting pitching market this offseason outweighs the available offensive talent, like a tractor trailer outweighs a small car. Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields headline the pitching market, with second tier options including Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy.

The hitting market is barren. Young offense is being locked up by teams early, leaving infielders such as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as the key players this winter. There is a shortage of young offensive talent and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Unless the Phillies get a sizeable package which they desire, they should keep Cole Hamels. The free agent market after the 2015 season includes some big names. Money from the contracts of Jonathon Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd (trade) could come off the payroll. That’s a total of 32 million dollars in salary that won’t be there. Even if they do end up signing prized Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, there should be amble room to add a big time pitching piece.

“There are a lot of hitters who, to generate power, they’ve got to pull the ball. They’ve got to open their hips to generate power. He’s so powerful he can afford to just let the ball travel deep. And then, when he hits them, no matter whether it’s to right field or center field. He punishes them.

“I haven’t seen anyone – and I represent Jose Bautista, he hits a lot of home runs – I’ve never seen anybody hit a ball this far. (Tomas) is actually taking batting practice in a big old stadium in the Dominican, where teams from the capital play. It’s a big stadium. It’s 411 (feet to) to center. And he was hitting the big screen above the center field wall.” –Thomas’ agent, Jay Alou

Below are some names that could interest the Phillies after the 2015 season. A top three of Cole Hamels, Aaron Nola and a top of the line free agent starting pitcher is something to build your franchise with.

PitcherAge2014 ERA2014 FIP2014 WAR
Yovani Gallardo303.513.942.4
Rick Porcello273.433.674
Jeff Samardzija312.993.23.7
Jordan Zimmermann302.662.684.9
David Price303.262.784.6


A top trio with Hamels, Nola and a free agent starter, along with a draftee in pre arbitration (Jesse Biddle) and a cost effective veteran can give you a formidable starting rotation for under 70 million dollars. Considering where the Phillies are in the rebuild as well, adding a pitcher who received a qualifying offer would only cost Ruben Amaro and the rest of management a second round pick. For a pitcher like Zimmermann or Price, it is worth it.

Attracting a pitcher in the above list to come play for a likely non contender is tough. The result of overpayment for a free agent starter will be expected in this situation.

Building the offense through the farm system is a logical path for the Phillies, what they lack in impact pitching in the minors beyond Aaron Nola as a top three starter in a major league rotation they can find in free agency. The rebuild might go quicker than some suggest, keeping Hamels and adding an impact pitcher after the 2015 season is one way to remedy a franchise in transition.

Author: Matthew Speck

Matthew is based in Central Pennsylvania and hopes to capture Phillies prospects information effectively for the fans. He covers high school sports for the Lebanon Daily News along with the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers.

1 comment

  1. Ghost of Manny Trillo

    That tweet in the middle of the article has Cole in some pretty impressive company, especially when you consider four of the greatest left-handers of all time didn’t make the list:

    Steve Carlton: 11 seasons of 4+ WAR, but only five over 130 ERA+ (1978 season was at 126).
    Sandy Koufax: 6 seasons of 4+ WAR, five over 130 ERA+ (This doesn’t include his rookie year, 1955, in which Koufax had a 136 ERA+ but only pitched 41 innings, good for 0.9 WAR)
    Warren Spahn: 14 seasons of 4+ WAR (and another at 3.9), only three over 130 ERA+ (but eight others between 129 and 122 ERA+).
    Rube Waddell: five seasons of 4+ WAR and 130 ERA+

    Thanks as always for the interesting article.