The Philadelphia Phillies signed former World Series MVP Cole Hamels to a one-year, $15 million deal avoiding arbitration. The deal was initially reported by Jon Heyman over Twitter.
The team coming to terms with a player before arbitration is not uncommon, as the process can become nasty and potentially lead to a player leaving town. The Phillies clearly did not want to disrespect Hamels with a low-ball offer and gave him a nice pay increase from his 2011 salary.
Hamels has already made two All-Star nods by the age of 28, and it's not insane to think that Hamels hasn't even tapped his potential yet. Pitchers often post their best numbers after 30, as they learn how to handle hitters better and control all of their pitches.
Hamels has a mid-90s fastball and a top-five changeup in MLB. Those things don't come around often from a lefty. GM Ruben Amaro gave fan-favorite Cliff Lee a monstrous five-year deal worth $120 million, so would a guy that is obsessed with pitching really allow his most valuable piece to walk via free agency?
That very question has all of Phillies Nation shaking in their boots at this moment.
The good news is that the New York Yankees (whom many believe to be Hamels' top suitor) added two pitchers in Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda this past week. The bad news is that Kuroda was only given a one-year deal and the Yankees have a seemingly limitless bankroll.
Not to mention they'd like to pull a fast one on the team that stole Cliff Lee from them a year ago.
The Phillies have a ton of money invested already into this team with the massive deals given to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee. It was reported that Hamels will seek a Cliff Lee-type deal, instead of the once thought Jared Weaver contract standard.
Hamels has every right to ask for such a contract. He is younger than Lee and has won a World Series for a team (as their ace) that has sold out more than 200 consecutive games.
Hamels understands how valuable he is to this team and this city, but don't expect him to take a huge hometown discount to stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Hamels will be as coveted a free agent as we've seen to hit the market in the last decade. He's that good.
If the Cliff Lee contract will prevent the Phillies from re-signing Cole Hamels, does the Lee signing become a travesty in the minds of the Philly Phaithful? Probably not, as Lee is often compared to mystical creatures like "unicorn" and "titan" in this city.
He was given a standing ovation (myself included) when he blew Game 2 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, after all. Not too many players have that kind of pull in Philadelphia.
In conclusion, I find it hard to imagine that Cole Hamels will be in any other uniform than Phillies pinstripes for the remainder of his career. Let's not deny the fact, however, that as each day goes by without King Cole locked up long-term, the anxiety level goes up.
Would a team that has relied so heavily on their pitching let their youngest and brightest star walk? Maybe, maybe not, but even with the ink on Hamels' new one-year contract still wet, it's officially time to panic.
In this writer's eyes anyway.
Make sure to follow Joe Iannello on Twitter! @jiann481