The California Kid is staying around Philly for at least one more year. The Phillies avoided arbitration and signed pitcher Cole Hamels to a one-year contract worth $15 million dollars. The signing is just a brief stop in what figures to be a game of tug of war between Hamels’ agent and the Phillies over the next year. Hamels, who is a two-time All-Star, is coming off of his best season in the majors to date. He finished 2011 with a 2.79 ERA , had a record of 14-9, and finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting.
Signing Hamels to a long-term deal this year is the key to the Phillies future success. The one-year deal is a nice step, but do we really want this to go any further? Hamels is still only 28 years old, and as the rest of the staff will more than likely start showing its age soon, Hamels will just be hitting his prime. He is expected, one day, to be the Roy Halladay of the Phillies future staff. He is a left-handed stud who would be a number-one pitcher on most teams and, in some instances, is just as dominate as Halladay and Cliff Lee are. Hamels’ often laid-back demeanor makes him, at times, seem as though he isn’t into the game. But anyone who watches Cole pitch on a weekly basis can see he is every bit as competitive and every bit as determined as the rest of the staff.
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Hamels is most likely going to command a contract similar to if not more than the one Jered Weaver signed for five years and $85 million last season. If his one-year deal is any indication, he could be looking at a much larger payday. His $15 million deal is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player. This broke the $12.4 million deal signed by Carlos Zambrano in 2007. It is hard to imagine the Phillies keeping the team together and still giving Hamels the amount some experts have him banking in on. He is projected to possibly make a multi-year deal in the $90-$96million range (which is a lot more than the three-year, $20.5 million deal he signed in 2009).
It is a good sign that Hamels agent, John Boggs, has been quoted saying this is the first step in the negotiation process. Boggs is seeking a multi-year deal, and it is realistic to say the deal will be done by the All-Star break. As a fan sitting back and waiting, it can be rather irritating. If Hamels doesn’t sign for the long term, the Phillies will have a huge void to fill. Hopefully, it won’t come to that and the California Kid becomes a man in Philadelphia.