The Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of a makeup game with the Baltimore Orioles Thursday. Friday, the Texas Rangers will travel to Camden Yards, with former Phillies World Series MVP Cole Hamels set to toe the rubber for the Rangers. Hamels may hope that is some sort of sign that a reunion with the team that he spent the first nine-and-a-half seasons of his career with is in the cards.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, Hamels’ inner circle believes that he would love to return to the Phillies, who drafted him in the first-round of the 2002 MLB Draft:
Cole Hamels would absolutely love to rejoin the Phillies, people close to him say.
Heyman reported in early July that there had been “chatter” about Hamels potentially returning to the Phillies. Though the fit has long been speculated on, Heyman admitted he was unsure how legitimate the chatter was.
Hamels still lives in Philadelphia during the offseason. He spoke at a Phillies sanctioned press conference last offseason after the sudden-passing of his former teammate Roy Halladay. He attended the Eagles Super Bowl parade with his former teammate Ryan Howard. And above all else, there’s only been two World Series MVPs in Phillies history and Hamels is one of them. It’s not surprising that the idea of Hamels returning to the Phillies, who entered the night tied for first place in the National League East, is one that excites some fans on the surface.
However, Hamels lasted less than an inning in his last start against the Detroit Tigers, who are 15 games below .500. He’ll enter his 19th start of the season Friday with a 4.28 ERA. His 5.15 FIP is the seventh worst among qualified starting pitchers. He has a career-high 1.83 HR/9 and has already hit 10 batters. Objectively, he’s not having a good season.
Due to the struggles that he’s had in 2018, the Rangers might not want much of a return in exchange for Hamels. They would probably prefer whatever team would be acquiring him take on his money for the rest of the 2018 season, and be responsible for the $20 million option (or $6 million buyout) in his contract for 2019.
It would be one thing if the Phillies were desperate for starting pitching. But Aaron Nola is an All-Star, Zach Eflin has had a breakout season and for as inconsistent as Jake Arrieta has been, he’s been much better than Hamels. Nick Pivetta has shown front-line potential, though it’s certainly hasn’t been a flawless season for him. Even Vince Velasquez, statistically speaking, is having a better 2018 season than Hamels. Injuries happen and the Phillies may limit Velasquez’s innings at some point in 2018, but Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin could then join the rotation.