Cole Hamels just finished up a seven-year, $158 million contract and is a free agent. At (almost) age 36 he’s not quite the pitcher he used to be, but he’s still an above-average starter who could help a contender.
The question normally asked at this juncture is whether a contender wants to give a big free agent deal to a 36 year-old pitcher. It may not have to be asked now because, via this article at MLB.com, Hamels says he might accept a one-year deal:
“I’m not there to handcuff somebody or an organization,” Hamels said. “That’s what the younger guys can do. I can do one year here and there and just play as long as I can play. I think that’s what will help give me an opportunity to play on teams that are trying to go to the postseason. If you need one guy, I can just kind of bounce around.”
Which may explain why the Cubs didn’t give him a qualifying offer. He may very well have accepted it.
What to think of this?
On the one hand, Hamels sounds like his top priority is signing someplace where he can win and it could very well be the case that he’s best positioned to do that by being willing to take single-year deals. On the other hand, it’s hard not to see this as a comment of sorts on the state of the free agent market that this does, in fact, seem like the most viable path for him. On the third hand, he was dealing with shoulder fatigue late in the season and perhaps he’d not draw multi-year deals from anyone, even if the free agent market was as hot as it used to be back in the day. He’s sort of a complicated case.
Maybe that doesn’t happen. Maybe someone does want to lock him up longer. He says he’d be open to that if the opportunity arose. Including if that meant a reunion with the Phillies. But he will certainly be one of the more interesting free agents on the market this winter.