Cole Hamels, Braves Agree to 1-Year, $18 Million Contract

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Cole Hamels winds up during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Free-agent pitcher Cole Hamels agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

ESPN's Jeff Passan was the first to report the pact.

The 35-year-old spent nine-plus years with the Philadelphia Phillies, parts of four seasons with the Texas Rangers and one-plus year with the Chicago Cubs.

He is coming off a season in which he went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, striking out 143 batters in 141.2 innings. The left-hander was limited to 27 starts as he missed July because of an oblique injury.

Hamels' numbers were respectable, but his home-road splits were noteworthy last season:

  • At Wrigley Field: 13 starts, 77.2 innings, 3-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .228 average against
  • On the road: 14 starts, 64 innings, 4-6, 5.06 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .295 average against

He was also a drastically different pitcher between the first and second halves:

  • Pre-All-Star Break: 17 starts, 99.2 innings, 6-3, 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .234 average against
  • Post-All-Star Break: 10 starts, 42 innings, 1-4, 5.79 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, .315 average against

Hamels allowed more than three earned runs in a start just twice before landing on the injured list in June. He allowed four or more earned runs in a start in three of his first seven starts upon his return. Meanwhile, he threw more than five innings just twice over his final 10 starts, failing to reach that mark in any of his final four outings.

For his 14-year career, Hamels has put together a 163-121 record with a 3.42 ERA, earning four All-Star selections and receiving Cy Young Award votes four times. He has thrown a no-hitter by himself (July 25, 2015) and been part of a combined no-no (September 1, 2014).

He has thrown 200-plus innings in a season eight times.

As for his postseason resume, he is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 career playoff appearances, including 16 starts. He was named the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series in 2008.

Hamels may not be as dominant as he once was, but he remains an effective pitcher. He will provide a boost both on and off the field for the Braves as they pursue a World Series title.