New Deal? Hamels Isn’t Worried
Had a chance to talk to Cole Hamels for a few minutes last night at the Four Seasons in Center City, where Charlie Manuel was named Magee Rehabilitation Hospital’s 2011 Humanitarian of the Year.
(Aside: Following Jonathan Papelbon‘s news conference on Monday at Citizens Bank Park, I kidded Manuel about being named Humanitarian of the Year. I said, “Charlie, you’re always getting honored by somebody.” He said, “Hey, man, I used to get roasted. They used to put salt and pepper on me and roast me.”
Everybody is wondering what’s going to happen with Hamels, and understandably so. He made $9.5 million in 2011, and is eligible for salary arbitration one final time before becoming a free agent following the 2012 season. There is mutual interest in signing Hamels to a multiyear extension, but nothing has happened so far. That shouldn’t be particularly alarming. Not yet.
“My whole philosophy is: I don’t fear trying to sign something quickly because of the fear of failure or getting injured,” Hamels said. “I’ve had a serious injury. I broke my arm in high school and they said I would never throw again. I overcame that, so I think I can overcome anything. I’ll never have regrets or what ifs. I just know if I can play and do a really good job it’ll take care of itself.”
Signing Hamels could be tricky.
Angels ace Jered Weaver signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension during the season. His career numbers are very similar to Hamels’. But the longer Hamels goes without an extension and the better he pitches in 2012 his price goes up. Hamels could be (should be?) looking for $100 million or more. The New York Mets signed Johan Santana to a six-year, $137.5 million contract in Feb. 2008, nine months before he would have become a free agent. The nine-month mark for Hamels is Feb. 2012. But the notable difference is Santana was a two-time Cy Young winner at the time. But while Hamels doesn’t have a couple Cy Youngs, he does have a World Series MVP trophy and is considered one of the best pitchers (not just left-handers) in baseball.
So the question becomes how far are the Phillies willing to go?
They already have committed $89.5 million to Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon in 2013. That doesn’t include a raise to Hunter Pence, who will be eligible for salary arbitration, or other multiyear deals the Phillies sign this offseason (Jimmy Rollins? Michael Cuddyer? Both?).
The Phillies will have to decide how many mega multiyear contracts they can handle.
A big thing in Hamels’ favor is he will be just 28 next season. Halladay turns 35 in May. Lee turns 34 in August. The Phillies would like to have Hamels a piece of their rotation for the foreseeable future because Halladay and Lee won’t be around forever. Although with two (possibly three) more seasons with Halladay and four (possibly five) more seasons with Lee, Phillies fans hope it’s not for a long time.
The Phillies are focused on Rollins and other 2012 roster decisions at the moment. In the past, the Phillies have waited until January to sign their own players to extensions (i.e. Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton). The same could happen here, but Hamels sees how the top pitchers in baseball are paid. He just needs to look around his own clubhouse.
“You get into money like this, which you never possibly imagined … I think as long as you’re compensated in the category that you’re playing, then can’t ever have any sort of hard feelings or any regrets,” he said.
I also spoke with Hamels about his recovery from offseason surgeries. Read the story here.