2014 Age: 30
Contract: Hamels signed a six-year, $144 million (2013-18) contract extension in July of 2012 that includes a $24 million vesting option in 2019. He will become a free agent after the 2018 season at the earliest.
Hamels has been one of the most consistent and productive starting pitchers in baseball since reaching the major leagues as a 22-year-old in 2006.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old has proven to be durable over his eight-year career with the Phillies, logging at least 180 innings in seven consecutive seasons and eclipsing the 200-inning threshold five times in the last six years.
Between starting pitchers that logged at least 1,200 innings between the 2006 and 2013 seasons, Hamels owns the ninth-best ERA (3.38) and ERA+ (123), ranking ahead of both Justin Verlander and Tim Lincecum.
Furthermore, Hamels’ 33.8 WAR since 2006 is the sixth-highest total among his peers, and his 3.83 strikeout-to-walk rate during that span is good for the fourth-highest ratio behind teammate Cliff Lee and former teammate Roy Halladay.
In July of 2012, the Phillies and Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension covering the 2013-18 seasons, not including an additional $6 million signing bonus. The deal also included a limited no-trade clause and $24 million vesting option for the 2019 season.
As outlined in his contract, Hamels is guaranteed to make the full $24 million in 2019 if he 1) pitches in 400 innings between 2017-18, including 200 innings in 2018, and 2) is not on the disabled list with an elbow or shoulder injury at the end of the 2018 season.
At the time of the signing, Hamels’ contract was the second-largest ever for a pitcher as well as the richest in Philadelphia sports history.
His first full season as a filthy rich man began ominously, as the southpaw pitched to a 4.87 ERA and surrendered 10 home runs in 74 innings over the first two months of the season.
Hamels eventually regained his form in late June as the weather improved and proceeded to dominate over the second half of the season. In 13 starts after the All-Star break, Hamels posted a much-improved 2.97 ERA and 84-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91 innings.
Hamels’ extensive playoff résumé also played a part in his ginormous contract extension.
The left-hander has appeared in the postseason in five of his eight seasons with the Phillies, making 13 starts over 10 different playoff series. Overall, Hamels owns a 3.09 ERA and 3.69 strikeout-to-walk rate in 81.2 postseason innings.
However, the 2008 NLCS will always be remembered as Hamels’ coming-out party. After carving up the Brewers in the LDS, the then-24-year-old helped the Phillies take down the Dodgers with a pair of brilliant starts. At the conclusion of the series, Hamels was named the NLCS MVP after recording two wins and allowing only three earned runs in 14 innings.
Although Hamels has been a model of consistency over the last four years, the left-hander was plagued by injuries early in his career.
In 2006, not long after he reached the major leagues, Hamels landed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. He returned to the disabled list the following year, this time missing 30 games after he suffering a mild UCL sprain in his left elbow.
Hamels’ left shoulder once again flared up during the 2011 season, resulting in another trip to the 15-day DL. And last but not least, the southpaw underwent surgery after the 2011 season to remove loose bodies from his left elbow.
So, with his history of left elbow and shoulder problems, you can start to understand why the Phillies wanted certain contingencies in place with this contract before guaranteeing him $24 million in 2019 as a 35-year-old. Unfortunately, that doesn’t offer insight as to why the organization is willing to pay Hamels $23.5 million per year during the pitcher’s age-32 to age-34 seasons.
The Phillies reportedly are willing to discuss trades involving left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee this offseason, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter).
However, Jayson Stark (also of ESPN) later clarified that Philadelphia will only trade Hamels if it’s a “win-win” situation, meaning that the organization wants a solid return of young players and relief from Hamels’ current contract.
The reality is that, given the current market, no team in its right mind will be willing to part with multiple young players and take on the remaining five years and $112.5 million of his contract.
Plus, after the Phillies re-signed Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, dealing Hamels, the face of their franchise, this offseason would mean the organization is rebuilding—and we all know that’s not true.
If the Phillies were to hypothetically match up with another team in a deal for Hamels, then it would have to be one with top-ranked positions prospects.
That being said, the Dodgers could emerge as a suitor for Hamels this winter, as they have both the money and talent needed to complete a deal. In exchange for the left-hander, the Phillies would likely receive some combination of outfielder Joc Pederson and shortstop Corey Seager, with 2010 first-rounder Zach Lee possibly being offered as the dealbreaker.