Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was asked Thursday by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury where he envisions left-hander Cole Hamels opening the 2013 season:
“He’ll be here,” Rollins replied. “He’s not going anywhere. He was drafted by this organization, raised by this organization and became a superstar in this organization. If you know anything about this organization, that means he’s not going anywhere. It’s fun to talk about for talk radio and stuff like that. But he’s not going anywhere. That’s my opinion.”
It’s exactly the type of thing you’d expect a teammate to say, but Rollins is probably being too optimistic. Hamels has registered a sparkling 2.92 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 405 strikeouts and just 105 walks over the past two seasons and could hit the jackpot in free agency if his ace-like numbers continue in 2012. For him to sign now with Philadelphia, it would take a contract extension worth well over $100 million. And there’s been no indication from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. that an offer like that is coming. The Dodgers, who will soon have a new, deep-pocketed owner, are likely to be major players in the Hamel sweepstakes if the 28-year-old southpaw indeed reaches the free agent market.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.