Cole Hamels will be a free agent in less than 12 months.
The Yankees had pitching problems last season but they seem to be gone right now after the acquisition of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda.
Next offseason Kuroda and Freddy Garcia will be gone and a two spots will open up in the rotation. One will be occupied by AJ Burnett or Phil Hughes but what about the other?
The Yankees have money and their are some elite pitchers in next offseason's free agent class, namely Cole Hamels.
Let's look at five reasons why Cole Hamels will be in pinstripes in 2013.
Ruben Amaro and the Phillies just signed a one-year $15 million deal to avoid arbitration with Cole Hamels. That short-term contract all but guarantees he will hit free agency next offseason
Cole Hamels and his agent John Boggs publicly stated that they will not take a hometown discount by saying that Jered Weaver's five-year $85 million contract is not a comparison.
At the appropriate time, Cole is looking to be compensated as one of the premier left-handed pitchers in baseball. Without putting a number on it, we’ll leave it at the fact that he’s an elite pitcher. Look and see what elite pitchers are compensated with. Hopefully at the end of the day we’ll be able to get something done with the Phillies that will reflect that.
I don’t think [Weaver] is a parallel. That contract is great for Jered. I understand it. But he took a different path and left a lot of money on the table. He came up through the Angels system and grew up in their backyard. He’s pitching where he grew up. That situation appeals to him. It’s a similar situation to when I had Tony Gwynn. Without getting into specifics of what we’re looking for, the Weaver situation is unique to Weaver.
That does not bode well for the Phillies, who still have to give a contract extension to Hunter Pence as well. They also gave out big deals to Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon this offseason and there are already three $20-plus million salaries on the team in Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard.
The Yankees have the money to outbid the Philadelphia Phillies, they just have to want him enough.
The New York Yankees want to get their payroll down to, or below, $189 million by 2014.
How does signing Cole Hamels, who will likely cost over $20 million per year, fit into that plan when the Yankees already have a $201 million payroll before filling out their bench, finding a DH or paying the rest of the players on their 40-man roster making league minimum?
Let's just say after they make all those moves their payroll goes to $215 million.
In December 2012 the Yankees will have a lot of money coming off the books. Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, Nick Swisher, Pedro Feliciano, Russell Martin, Andruw Jones and Mariano Rivera will all become free agents. Those players will clear $52 million off the Yankees' payroll.
Even if the Yankees re-sign Mariano Rivera, who will likely retire, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin to a total of about $30 million they still clear $22 million of their payroll.
That $22 million sounds like just enough to sign Cole Hamels. A seven-year $154 million deal sounds like the perfect price for the 28-year-old lefty.
If the Yankees sign Hamels to that deal they will not clear any money off their payroll. They will be no closer to their $189 million goal.
When the next offseason rolls around the Yankees will shed quite a bit of payroll.
AJ Burnett Rafael Soriano and Phil Hughes head the class and will clear $33.7 million of the Yankees' payroll. Derek Jeter has a player option for 2014. If he picks it up his salary will be $9 million, $8 million less than 2013, but if he does not and retires his $17 million salary also comes off the books.
Then add on Mariano Rivera, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin, who in this scenario were Yankees in 2013. That is another $30 million coming off the books.
That means even if Jeter stays for one final year $71.7 million will come off the books. That would put the Yankees' 2014 payroll at about $143.3 million. That gives the Yankees an extra $45 million to upgrade their roster, replace players who are leaving in free agency and paying for raises in arbitration.
They would need a few bullpen arms, a shortstop, a right fielder, a catcher and probably a third baseman to replace Alex Rodriguez, who will be moving to DH.
They will also have to re-sign Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
Cano will make $15 million in 2013, let's say he gets $22 million a year on his new contract. Granderson will make $13 million in 2013, let's say he makes $17 million a year on his new contract.
That cuts the $45 million down to $34 million, which is still quite a bit.
By that time Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams should be ready for the majors, they will make league minimum. That fills center field and catcher.
A shortstop and a third baseman will be expensive. Even if the Yankees go big on one of them, maybe David Wright for $17 million a year, that cuts their money down to $17 million to find a shortstop and a couple of bullpen arms.
Eduardo Nunez might be able to play shortstop by then, who knows? If not they could pay $12 million for a good shortstop and then have $5 million for a couple bullpen arms.
For that price they won't be closer-material but the Yankees already have David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and other prospects (maybe Dellin Betances, David Phelps and Adam Warren) who will be in the bullpen.
It financially works.
Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia and AJ Burnett will all be leaving New York in the next couple years.
That leaves the Yankees' rotation as CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. Only one of those pitchers, Sabathia, has any experience and there is no knowing if all those young pitchers will pan out the way we hope.
Cole Hamels will give the Yankees another veteran pitcher that can stand atop the rotation.
If all those young pitchers turn out to be studs then great, Brian Cashman can trade one of them to upgrade another position, but if they do not then there is a spot open in the rotation for Hamels.
To be a New York Yankee you have to be able to perform in the postseason.
Cole Hamels has pitched 81.2 innings in the postseason so far in his career and has posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in those innings.
Hamels is cool under pressure and led the Phillies to a 2008 World Series Championship.
Not many teams can say they have a pitcher like that and if the Yankees land Hamels they can say they have two.
In a time where three-man rotations lead the way in the postseason it pays to have two aces at the top of them.
Try to think of a better one-two punch atop a rotation.
Perhaps Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain or maybe Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.
I wouldn't say either of those pairs are better than a Sabathia-Hamels pair right now but in 2013 it will not be close.
Who knows if Matt Cain will even be a Giant in 2013, he will be a free agent next offseason with Hamels. He may go sign with a team and form another great one-two punch but who knows.
Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are great pitchers but in 2013 they will be 36 and 33 years old, respectively. Sabathia and Hamels on the other hand will be 32 and 29 years old.
Those age differences are a big deal because as you age your velocity and control start to decrease. Halladay and Lee cannot pitch forever and their reign as the best pitching duo in the majors may be over soon.