The Phillies’ ability to talk Cole Hamels out of discovering his true value, this close to free agency, cannot be overstated. Beerleaguer weighs the pros and cons of extending Hamels for six years, $144 million.
Pros: Not all contracts are created equal. In Hamels, they're investing in a 28-year-old pitcher who's hitting his stride and should continue to throw at his peak level for the next several years. He would have been the best player to hit free agency this winter, so this is another great job by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to leverage the superiority of the Phillies' brand and prevent a home-grown superstar from flying the coop. Amaro is essentially three-for-three in nailing the biggest-name, available starting pitcher in each of the last three seasons. Again, more verification that Philly is the place to be and that Amaro knows how to wheel and deal. This is a big-time, big-market move from baseball’s high roller. In terms of 2013 implications, securing Hamels means they don't need to worry about the starting rotation and can focus on improving other areas.
Cons: The Phillies are stuck in a cycle of big, long contracts. They’re boxed in by a handful of players, many of whom have seen too many winters. The Phils have set the bar with a handful of blockbuster deals, including Ryan Howard's 2010 extension, Jonathan Papelbon's record deal and now this $144 million agreement with a reported seventh-year vesting option. Their payroll is bursting at the seams and I don't see any chance they can avoid the luxury tax now. The Phils couldn’t significantly change the mix if they tried, and that's no small point for a 45-55 group that is also the oldest in baseball.
Phillies announce terms: It's six years, $144 million, taking Hamels through 2018, with a club/vesting option for 2019 and a limited no-trade provision.