The Philadelphia Phillies have signed 28-year old LHP Cole Hamels to a 6-year contract extension. The deal with worth $144 million dollars, the richest in franchise history and the 2nd largest contract to a pitcher in Major League Baseball history. The 6-year deal includes a team option/vesting option for a 7th season which will increase the total value to $158 or $162 million.
Philadelphia selected Hamels with the 17th pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, he has compiled an 85-58 record with a 3.38 ERA during his seven seasons with the Phillies. Cole Hamels made his Phillies debut in 2006, has been named to the All-Star game three times and was the 2008 NLCS & World Series MVP.
By agreeing to a contract extension, Hamels ensures that we won’t be dealt prior to the July 31st trade deadline. He was eligible for free agency following the 2012 season and would have been the premiere pitcher available in the open market.
After a spring training with no deal, it became very unlikely that Hamels would resign prior to hitting free agency. With the team struggling, many in baseball thought that Hamels was as good as gone with the Phillies getting some prospects back prior to the trade deadline or draft picks if the team lost him to free agency. However, last week things took a turn for the better between Hamels, his agent John Boggs and the Phillies. The organization always had a tough policy on not going more than three years on a pitcher, but broke that rule for Cliff Lee and absolutely had to if they wanted to retain Hamels. For the Phillies, it’s the first homegrown ace they’ve had since Robin Roberts (seriously!) and they could not let him walk.
The Phillies will have at least $65 million tied into 3/5s of their starting rotation through 2013. Next season, the team will have $128.286 million tied to just 8 players. (Not including options) Ruben Amaro will have a tough time playing with the $175 million budget the team has created unless they are willing to over the luxury tax. Expect guys like Shane Victorino and/or Hunter Pence to be moved to save some money and replenish a farm system that’s bare at the top levels. (Pence would get more back than Victorino obviously) In the meantime, while the season has a been a disaster sans the last two nights and Thome’s walk off, fans can take solace in the fact that one of their own (World Champion) is not leaving for at least another six, maybe seven seasons.