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July 25, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Hamels Extends Stay in Philly UPDATED

by Daniel Rathman and R.J. Anderson

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FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to extend Cole Hamels to a six-year extension in excess of $137.5 million. However, the deal and the amount of money involved have not yet been confirmed. If and when the extension is announced and/or the contract details are finalized, we'll update this post.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agreed to a six-year extension worth more than $137.5 million with LHP Cole Hamels. [7/25]

When Cole Hamels and the Phillies avoided arbitration with a one-year, $15 million agreement in January, the lefty’s agent, John Boggs, told ESPN, “At the appropriate time, I’m sure we’ll have dialogue with the Phillies and continue talking about a multi-year deal.” Months passed before significant progress was made in those negotiations, but with only a week to go before the team’s last chance to trade Hamels, the sides have reportedly come to terms on a six-year extension worth more than $137.5 million.

While Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have spent time on the disabled list and failed to live up to their lofty standards this season, Hamels has ascended to the top of the team’s rotation, logging a 3.23 ERA and 3.60 FIP. He has thrived at one of the league’s most hitter-friendly parks, and—despite battling injuries during his minor-league career—has proven to be one of the league’s more durable starting pitchers, making at least 31 starts in each of the past four seasons.

Thus, general manager Ruben Amaro deemed Hamels worthy of the second-largest contract ever awarded to a starting pitcher, behind only the seven-year, $161 million deal CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees in December 2008. It exceeds by $10 million the six-year hitch Matt Cain signed to stay with the Giants this past offseason, and combined, those two extensions have thinned what previously promised to be one of the deepest classes of free-agent starting pitchers ever.

The Phillies now join the Giants as the two teams with two $100-million men in their rotations, with Lee in the second year of a five-year, $132.5 million deal signed in December 2010. Halladay is also signed for $20 million in 2013, so the Phillies will pay their big three roughly $65-70 million next season.

That’s a steep price to pay for 12 percent of a 25-man roster, but with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the downslopes of their careers, keeping Hamels in Philadelphia could help keep the team’s window of competition from closing completely. With a lucrative television deal likely on the horizon for Philly, Amaro probably won’t be sapped of payroll flexibility anytime soon. —Daniel Rathman

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement tied the Phillies’ hands behind their back. Because of the draft-pick compensation changes, the Phillies had to perform scenario analysis. If they were to trade Hamels, then doing so in the 2011-2012 offseason—when the other team could later net a draft pick—made the most sense and maximized the return. Otherwise, keeping Hamels meant at least one of three things: gaining a draft pick, making another postseason appearance, or hammering out an extension. Ruben Amaro, Jr. chose to keep Hamels and go for the gusto—and who can blame him for that? The result, as it turns out, is agreeing to an extension that will keep Hamels in Philadelphia for the near future.

To call Hamels one of the game’s dozen or so best starters might be underselling him. Since 2010, Hamels ranks ninth in ERA+ among starters with 500-plus innings. That’s behind teammates Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, but ahead of the likes of David Price and Matt Cain. Hamels is well on his way to a sixth-straight season with 180 or more innings pitched and a third straight 200-plus inning season. He has quality, durability, and a knack for ill-advised photos. What more could you want?

Amaro, Jr. might like some more budget room. Only the Phillies know how much they can spend, but adding another top-dollar contract to the pot has to push them closer to the choke point. Something will have to give, and that something might be a combination of Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, and others being traded. How the Phillies rebuild their roster is to be determined. Just know that Hamels will remain a big part of the puzzle. —R.J. Anderson

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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