With the Philadelphia Phillies dropping more and more out of the National League playoff race, the team will likely be sellers come July. That means the team will be shopping Shane Victorino and notably Cole Hamels, who will command one of the largest contracts in the game’s history.
I’ve strongly advocated the Phillies re-signing Hamels for quite some time, but I no longer feel that way, and it isn’t solely because the team is enduring its worst season since 2000. Hamels will probably get something in the range of eight years at well over $20 million per year; that adds up to maybe $175 million.
The Phillies just can’t afford to keep Hamels, especially with what they’re paying Cliff Lee. Lee is in the second year of a five-year, $120 million contract that expires after the 2015 season, and it’s because of Lee that the Phillies likely won’t be able to retain Hamels. (Ideally, the Phillies would trade Lee, but good luck getting another team to take a 33-year old pitcher with no wins at $25 million for the next three years). They’re extremely similar players – both are left-handed pitchers with a tremendous strikeout to walk ratio and they’re two of the top 10 to 15 pitchers in the business.
What’s frustrating is that the Phillies likely won’t bring back Hamels because of Lee. Considering the fact that the team has struggled historically to groom homegrown pitchers, it will be ironic that the best one they’ve ever had is a guy they can’t afford.
Hamels is 28 years old and in the midst of a typically stellar season. He has a World Series ring and a Fall Classic MVP award and he’s stayed remarkably healthy during his seven-year career. He could bring the Phillies several key prospects, and that’s what the team needs to do.
The team’s farm system is talented at the single-A and double-A level, although there isn’t much at the Triple-A level. Bringing in young talent is a necessity, especially because if the Phillies wait until the end of the season and allow the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers to sign Hamels, the Phillies get nothing.