Report: Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Cole Hamels On Verge of Six-Year, $137.5 Million Deal

By Bryn Swartz

The Philadelphia Phillies are on the verge of locking up left handed starting pitcher Cole Hamels to a contract extension, according to Ken Rosenthal.

The contract extension would cover six years and $137.5 million. That amount is slightly less than the previously reported amounts of $142-$144 million. In fact, it’s the exact same contract that New York Mets left handed pitcher Johan Santana signed before the 2008 season.

Should the deal become official, Hamels would become the second highest paid pitcher, and third highest paid player, on his own team. First baseman Ryan Howard is in the first year of a five-year, $125 million contract that will pay him an average of $25 million per year. Pitcher Cliff Lee is in the second year of a five-year, $120 million contract, which will pay the former Cy Young winner an average of $24 million per year.

Hamels’ deal would pay him an average of $22.917 million per year.

With ace Roy Halladay making $20 million per year, the Phillies would enter the 2013 season with three starting pitchers making at least $20 million per year. Yes, that’s a record.

Hamels’ contract would be the 19th largest in professional sports history, tied for 16th among baseball players. It would also be the second largest contract ever for a pitcher, tied with Santana, and trailing only the massive seven-year, $161 million deal that the New York Yankees gave to CC Sabathia before the 2009 season.

How did that deal work out for the Yankees? Well they won the World Series that year, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

Assuming the Hamels signing becomes official, the Philadelphia Phillies can stop worrying about locking up their most important player, in terms of his future with the team, and focus on playing ball. They’ve been doing a pretty good job of that recently, winning each of the last three games in dramatic fashion (two by walkoffs, and one with six runs to come from behind in the bottom of the eighth).

The Phillies are still 10 games under .500, with a 44-54 record, but don’t count out a team that overcame a seven-game deficit in the division just in the month of September to win the 2007 National League East.

If the Phillies are to make another late-season comeback, they will need the services of Hamels, who has been enjoying one of his best seasons. He’s 11-4 with a 3.23 earned run average and 131 strikeouts in 133.2 innings. He was recently selected to his third All-Star Game, and the future looks great for the now rich 28-year old lefty.

Hamels’ contract, if official, makes Milwaukee Brewers right handed pitcher Zack Greinke the biggest available free agent this summer. Greinke is 9-3 a 3.57 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 116 innings this season, and the 2009 American League Cy Young winner would likely command a contract in the range of nine figures (although not as much as Hamels).

Other starting pitchers who will become highly sought after include Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins and James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The negative aspect of Hamels’ contract, however, means that the Phillies will be more likely than ever to trade at least one of their high-priced players before next week’s trade deadline. The top option is center fielder Shane Victorino, a two-time All-Star who becomes a free agent after the season. Right fielder Hunter Pence is also mentioned in trade talks, despite the Phillies just trading for Pence last July, because he will be owed $13 million in 2013.

Regardless of the way the Phillies end the season, they should be one of the top teams in 2013 based on their dominant pitching staff that will include Halladay, Lee, and Hamels for the third straight season.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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