More than 2,000 days have passed since 2008 World Series champion Cole Hamels last pitched in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.
Now 37, the 15-year veteran left-hander entered the offseason with a desire to continue playing in 2021. However, the free agency rumor mill has been quiet over the past several weeks regarding Hamels — and the clock is ticking, with less than 20 days remaining until Opening Day.
Hamels had a widely successful free agency his last go-around, garnering a one-year, $18 million contract for the 2020 season that made him the highest-salaried pitcher in Atlanta Braves history. He made just one start last season for them, however, due to a slew of injuries — going 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA in just 3 1/3 innings. Essentially, the Braves paid Hamels $1.8 million for each out he recorded during the mid-September road loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Two months have come and gone since the last Cole Hamels free agency report.
In early December, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that Hamels received free-agent interest from “several teams,” and than the left-hander was working out every day — while focused on being healthy and ready to go. “If teams want to see him in person he’d consider showcasing, assuming it can be done,” Heyman said.
Exactly two months ago, January 13, Heyman’s colleague, Jon Morosi, reported that Hamels intends to pitch this season, but that his throwing session for major league scouts had not yet been scheduled. Among the teams to express preliminary interest in Hamels were the Gabe Kapler-led San Francisco Giants, he continued.
This was the last verified offseason free agency report regarding Hamels. All has been quiet since. And, the Giants went in another direction to bolster their starting rotation in the meantime — signing fellow left-hander Alex Wood just a day following Morosi’s report, followed by right-hander Aaron Sanchez last month.
Looking back at the time Cole Hamels spent with the Phillies.
From his 2006 debut to his final start with the team — a July 2015 no-hitter while opposing future Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs — Hamels appeared in 295 games and 1,930 innings. Hamels won 114 games, while recording a 3.30 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, and 1,844-492 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
In the postseason, Hamels won seven games as a Phillie — including one during the 2008 World Series, when in two starts he recorded a 2.77 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and 8-3 strikeouts-to-walks ratio across 13 innings en route to MVP honors.
It was easy to take for granted the value Hamels provided to the Phillies over the years. Assuming left-hander Matt Moore — who has thrown four scoreless innings with a 0.75 WHIP and .154 opposing batting average this spring — remains healthy, he will be the first Phillies left-hander in the starting rotation to kick off a season since Hamels, six years ago. Since the 2016 season, only six different Phillies southpaws have started a game — Adam Morgan (21 starts), Drew Smyly (12), Jason Vargas (11), Ranger Suarez (3), Cole Irvin (3), and Jose Alvarez (1). Only Suarez remains in the organization.
Has Cole Hamels thrown his last pitch in Major League Baseball?
Since Hamels was traded, the California native has played for three different teams — the Texas Rangers (2015-18), Chicago Cubs (2018-19), and Braves (2020).
Given teams do not appear to be willing to even offer Hamels a minor-league deal with a spring invite, one has to wonder if he will ever pitch in the majors again.
Perhaps, teams needing depth as the season goes on — with pitchers adjusting to a 162-game season — will get Hamels back on the mound at some point. Maybe that team will be the Phillies.