This One’s Easy, Phillies: Sign Hamels Now
The offseason will really kick off this week as the general managers head to Scottsdale, Arizona for the annual general manager meetings. The Phillies have been active at these meetings before, such as 2003 when the Phillies made a trade for closer Billy Wagner. The Phillies do not need to travel anywhere to get one piece set, however. The Phillies, facing an offseason with many needs, have Cole Hamels publicly commenting that he would like to be back in Philadelphia. The Phillies should take advantage of this and make a move now.
Hamels told MLB.com last week that he had a desire to return:
“They’re building their roster. If I fit on their roster and their plans, I’d love the opportunity to come back. It’s probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans. It would be difficult for me to say, ‘Hey, I want to play there, can you guys make it happen?’ But I’m always willing to play for that team and city and attempt to win a World Series.
Hamels fits their needs and terms.
Is Hamels willing to sign a one-year deal and not handcuff the Phillies long-term? Check. Will not cost a draft pick to sign him? Check. Left-handed? Check. Salary in a reasonable range that will not preclude a bigger signing? Check. Everything about the situation seems to align with the offseason plans for the Phillies.
Hamels would not be, and should not be considered a front-end of the rotation option. Hamels is no longer that guy. But is he someone who can provide value to a starting rotation? Absolutely. Would he bring clout and leadership to the young players on the team since he won a World Series in Philadelphia and was the World Series MVP? Absolutely. The Phillies could check off a box and bring a special energy to the team and to the fans.
Last offseason the Phillies declared that they would not wait around to make moves, even as they had their eyes on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The signing of Andrew McCutchen was an earlier signing that allowed the team to fill one starting lineup spot in the earlier end. It was not the biggest splash in terms of present-day talent on the field, but he was a transformational presence in terms leadership, which translated to better performance from the team all around.
Also last offseason the Phillies took a pass on the likes of Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ and did not want to trade prospects for starting pitching, either. Getting Hamels in the fold now would at least keep the cupboard from being completely bare. The Phillies probably will still try for Gerrit Cole and/or Stephen Strasburg. But the Phillies need more than one starter, and last year Hamels was better than any starter not named Aaron Nola on the Phillies roster.
It is probably true that the Phillies could find someone analytically better than Hamels for the back-end. But no other player is willing to go public with their desire to come to Philadelphia. This would be an easy acquisition.
So, get it done, Phillies. Then you can move onto the next, bigger item on the offseason agenda.