In terms of pure statistics, Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver are identical twins.
Both are in their sixth seasons in the majors, both sport similar ERAs (Hamels-3.38, Weaver-3.31), both have pitched just over 1,000 innings over their career, both are about the same age (Weaver is one year older) and both are currently among the best pitchers in their league.
So as news broke last week that the Los Angeles Angels had struck a five-year, $85 million contract with their Cy Young-candidate ace Weaver, parallels were instantly drawn to the current predicament the Phillies find themselves in with Hamels,
Hamels is currently in the final year of a three-year, $21.5 million contract, and has one year of arbitration remaining before he would, theoretically, become a free agent.
The Phillies would obviously like to avoid a potential bidding-war for their 2008 World Series MVP, and this offseason (when several contracts come off the books) seems like the most logical option for doing so.
But will the Phillies and Hamels come to agreement on a new deal? On the surface, Weaver’s contract seems like an extremely reasonable deal for both sides. But after putting together a substantial and impressive postseason resume, and becoming one of the best southpaws in the game, will he want to test the open market?
As of now, a new contract isn’t even on Hamels's mind, at least according to him. He said,
“I just want to play. That’s why I have an agent. He’ll take care of the rest. If I go out and play and I’m comfortable, good things will happen. That’s all I can affect. It’s a situation where it’s your choice and when the time comes people make choices. I think I’m more focused on trying to win a World Series right now with these guys. That’s been the only thing on my mind this year.”
As Hamels continues to play an extremely influential role in the starting rotation, on a team that continues to grow older, that role will only become more essential. With Weaver’s deal, the line has likely been drawn in the sand.
A contract of similar stature seems rational for the Phillies, and lucrative enough for Hamels. But, as Hamels’ win count grows larger and larger, and the ERA gets smaller and smaller, the Phillies would do themselves a favor to get it done sooner rather than later.