Phillies fans shouldn’t feel betrayed by Cole Hamels
For a brief moment on Wednesday, December 4, the sky was falling in Philadelphia. Phillies legend and former World Series MVP Cole Hamels had signed with the Atlanta Braves of all teams, seemingly snubbing the city of brotherly love for one of their biggest rivals.
Entering this current offseason, the Phillies top need was clear. They ranked towards the bottom of the league in almost every relevant pitching category in 2019. With the free agent market full of a variety of solid starters, their options were open to acquiring 2-3 legit rotational pieces.
One of the guys that the Phillies were seriously linked with was obviously their former ace Hamels. A left-handed veteran with winning experience, he ticked off all the boxes. Initially, it appeared that Philadelphia “missed” out on Hamels, or that Hamels chose Atlanta over Philly. However, as events continued to unfold on Wednesday afternoon, it became clear who the real winners of the scenario were.
Despite blame initially being put on the front office for not landing the lefty, GM Matt Klentak did in fact put out an offer. A $9 million dollar contract over one year is right about where Hamels value should’ve been. For a team that has a ton of holes, committing close to $20 million to a 36-year-old pitcher (like the Braves did) would have been a poor idea.
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The Phillies ultimately passed on paying Hamels the big bucks, instead spending their assets on one of the top free agent aces on the market: 29 year old Zack Wheeler.
The announcement of Wheeler made the pass on Hamels make a whole lot more sense. The Phillies ultimately get the better, younger pitcher compared to the Braves while paying similar money (18m AAV vs 23m AAV).
Now, why didn’t Philadelphia just sign both players? Simply put, it would’ve been a gross misallocation of resources. Philly still has a glaring hole through the infield, and are expected to add another 1-2 bullpen arms. Pumping in over $40 million into pitchers not named Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg would have done more harm than good.
The Braves overpaid for Hamels big time. If he ends up having a monster year for Atlanta, then props to them, so be it. On the other hand, the Phillies played the Hamels market beautifully. They offered him a small one year deal but ultimately didn’t let the sentimental value cloud their judgement. Klentak and the rest of the Philly front office held onto their money and ultimately got one of the best pitchers on the open market.