Phillies and Cole Hamels avoid arbitration with $15 million deal

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Cole Hamels is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility and the 28-year-old left-hander will avoid a hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $15 million deal with the Phillies.

Hamels earned $9.5 million last season as part of a three-year, $20.5 million deal that bought out his early arbitration eligibility and would have been in line for a big raise after going throwing 216 innings with a 2.79 ERA and 194/44 K/BB ratio.

Last month at the winter meetings general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told our own Craig Calcaterra that the Phillies want to keep Hamels in Philadelphia long term, but with a $100 million contract likely just 30 healthy starts away it’ll be tough to stop him from hitting the open market next winter as a rare 28-year-old free agent ace.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.