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.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.