Oh, snap! It looks like somebody is trying to get paid next season! Cole Hamels has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season and figures to command a salary of over $20MM per season. Even crazier is that he may be on his way to the largest salary for a pitcher in baseball history. Well-known Philadelphia personality Howard Eskin reported Hamels and his agent are seeking a deal for seven years when Hamels becomes a free agent after this season. If my math is correct, that means Hamels could realistically receive a contract higher than the current highest pitcher contract awarded to CC Sabathia in 2008 for seven years/$161M.
So far this season, Hamels has a 5-1 record with a 2.45 ERA. Add to the fact he already is a World Series MVP and has improved almost every year since he was brought up and the Phillies may be in a huge pickle — a kind of pickle a team doesn’t want to be in. They will have their backs up against a wall, and it is hard to imagine a franchise that, until they signed Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, traditionally never went over four years with a pitcher. However, this is Hamels, who was brought up through the Phillies system. He has been the projected future ace for years, and he may be making the move to become this team’s ace this season. He is a lefty stud, someone who does not come around often.
What do the Phillies do? Should they trade away players with a few years left on their current deals such as Hunter Pence or Cliff Lee? Should they allow Hamels to just walk without getting anything for him? Seven years is a long time, but if you look at it, they are pretty happy with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay at this point in their careers and they are both in their mid-30s. Hamels will be 36 when the seven-year deal would end.
I say pay him, but I am not the man who signs the checks. If Hamels continues to dominate, we may see him commanding an even larger number by October, at which point, I will not be surprised to see some fireworks.