November 07, 2019
Just saying Cole Hamels' name makes baseball fans across Philadelphia snap to attention. Can you imagine what they would do if the Phillies brought back the legendary World Series MVP pitcher as their new-look team tries to return to the postseason?
Hamels said that's a distinct possibility in an interview this week with MLB.com. The 35-year-old pitcher just finished up his time with the Chicago Cubs, and the team declined to make a qualifying offer earlier this week, putting him right in the Phillies' crosshairs if they're so inclined.
The question now seems more about the Phillies' level of interest, rather than Hamels', after he was extremely straightforward about a potential reunion.
"I know Philly is finally trying to make that push. 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."
It's not often that players come right out and publicly discuss their preferences. Then again, Hamels, 35, is in the twilight of his career, and isn't exactly fending off a fleet of suitors.
Would it make sense? The Phillies are probably chasing bigger names, like Gerrit Cole, in the pitching market after a truly miserable season of pitching, but they also need to round out their five-man rotation with solid-to-good pitchers. Aaron Nola is an obvious lock for the starting rotation, and Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin will probably also end up there, but beyond those three are significant question marks.
Last year, Hamels pitched 141.2 innings and went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA, posting the second-highest strikeouts-per-nine of his career. His walks-per-nine reached a career high as well, but overall it was a fairly solid showing for a veteran pitcher.
The first portion of his season, before a strained left oblique injury, was much better than the second portion. Hamels told MLB.com he rushed back from the injury, which didn't help his numbers. Before the injury, Hamels went 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts.
Even as a fifth starter, bringing Hamels back on a one-year deal would seem like a good move, both from a baseball standpoint and from an off-the-field standpoint. He's a veteran who understands the city, and he can help steer a (hopefully) playoff-bound team in the right direction.