Well, the Cubs-Cole Hamels era is officially over.
Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Atlanta Braves are in agreement on a one-year, $18 million deal, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
The veteran southpaw did not receive a qualifying offer from the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason, which released him into the free agent wilderness untethered to any compensation with reportedly plenty of interest around the league. But despite an impressive end to the 2018 season and an impressive start to the 2019 season, injuries and ineffectiveness may have limited his ability to get a multi-year deal …
Or did it?
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 4, 2019
At Hamels’ age, it’s not crazy to see him pursuing a one-year deal (likely at a higher AAV than he would get over multiple years), but it’s also just a little odd for a guy that seems willing and able to continue pitching effectively … so long as he’s healthy and not rushed back from injury.
As for the market impact … Several teams – particularly the White Sox and Phillies – have been connected to Hamels all winter, but both are also connected to Zack Wheeler, whose deal is expected to come down as soon as today. It’s entirely possible, then, that action in this area of free agency is moving as quickly as we think, and Hamels pulled the trigger on his offers in reaction/anticipation. Those interested in the markets for free agent starts in this tier (Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel) should be on high-alert.
As for the Braves, they’re clearly pushing all in on the 2020 season – while also loading up on pitching – which makes you wonder if they might be more willing to part with some long-term valuable pieces to push more in the short term:
I am interested in said pitching, thanks. https://t.co/j87TtgpMMK
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 4, 2019
Update: The Braves might not be done with free agent starters yet, either …
Hamels taking physical today. Per source, #Braves’ decision to sign him doesn’t take them out of Bumgarner, but reflects market for him and others might exceed their comfort level. ATL signed Hamels for $18M, right around qualifying offer. Can give him actual QO at end of season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Indeed, that’s important to note, because it’s a little more challenging to imagine them parting with someone from the pitching side – like, say, Max Fried – if they don’t add another starter somewhere else.