Cole Hamels: ‘I’d love the opportunity to come back’

If the Philadelphia Phillies will have him, free agent left-hander Cole Hamels would love to return to the team that he spent the first nine-and-a-half seasons of his career with.

After spending the last year-and-a-half with the Chicago Cubs, Hamels is free to sign with a team of his choosing. You get the sense that the team he won the 2008 World Series would be his desired landing spot.

“I know Philly is finally trying to make that push,” Hamels said to Todd Zolecki of “They’re building their roster. If I fit on their roster and their plans, I’d love the opportunity to come back. It’s probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans. It would be difficult for me to say, ‘Hey, I want to play there, can you guys make it happen?’ But I’m always willing to play for that team and city and attempt to win a World Series. That’s where I am right now. I just want to have the opportunity to get to the postseason, just so that I can try to win.”

The Phillies passed on a chance to buy low on Hamels on the trade market in July of 2018, when the Texas Rangers ultimately traded him to the Chicago Cubs. That proved to be poor decision by general manager Matt Klentak, as Hamels posted a 2.36 ERA in 12 games after being acquired by the Cubs. The Phillies and their young pitching staff coughed up a lead in the National League East that year, going 21-34 after the All-Star Break.

Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers in Phillies history. (Brian Garfinkel/Icon Sportswire)

2019 was less successful for Hamels, as an oblique injury that he admitted to Zolecki that he rushed back from limited him to just 27 starts. In 10 starts after the All-Star Break, Hamels posted a 5.79 ERA.

Still, in the first half of 2019 season, Hamels went 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts. From that sense, taking a flier on Hamels as someone to help solidify the back-end of the starting rotation may make sense for the Phillies. It just depends how high the Phillies are willing to go price wise for a flier.

MLB Trade Rumors projected earlier this week that Hamels will sign a two-year/$30 million deal this offseason. That’s the same deal the Phillies weren’t willing to give Charlie Morton last offseason, and they were burned by it. At this stage of his career, Hamels is unlikely to pitch as well as Morton did in 2019, as he’s an American League Cy Young Award finalist. But $15 million annually would be a very fair price if Hamels can pitch the way he did in the first half of 2019.

Perhaps more concerning when weighing a potential pursuit of Hamels would be having to guarantee him a second season. Hamels will turn 36 in December and has logged over 2,600 regular season innings in his decorated career. The Phillies have been burned recently on going to the well one too many times in free agency with veteran relievers Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter and David Robertson. It’s possible signing Hamels would be doing that again. Of course, none of that trio has won a World Series MVP with the Phillies.


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