Cole Hamels can hit free agency next offseason, but a contract extension doesn’t appear to be on the agenda for the Phillies this winter.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Phillies assistant general manager said tonight that the club is focused on negotiating a one-year deal with the left-hander.
“We’ve had discussions with Cole,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said during an appearance on Comcast SportsNet’s Phillies Hot Stove on Tuesday night. “Right now, we’re focused on a one-year deal.”
“There’s plenty of time down the road,” Proefrock said. “That’s all I’ll say. Right now we’re focused on a one-year arbitration deal.”
Hamels, who turned 28 in December, has a 3.39 ERA over his first six seasons in the big leagues. He went 14-9 with a career-best 2.79 ERA last season while finishing fifth in the balloting for the National League Cy Young Award. The southpaw projects to make around $14 million through the arbitration process this winter.
It’s not clear what it would take to keep Hamels in Philadelphia for the long-term, but Salisbury throws Jered Weaver’s five-year, $85 million deal out there as a comparison. That’s not a bad starting point. Felix Hernandez (five years, $78 million) and Justin Verlander (five years, $80 million) signed similar deals prior to the 2010 season. Still, the idea of Hamels potentially hitting the open market next winter has to scare the bejesus out of Phillies fans.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”