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.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.