During a conference call with the collective media, Cole Hamels said he did not have any serious talks with the Phillies brass on a potential return to Philadelphia.
The Phillies, however, did not neglect to offer Hamels a contract. According to a report from MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, the Phillies offered their former ace a one-year deal worth reportedly half of that. Ultimately, the Braves made an aggressive push for Hamels Tuesday night and won his signature on Wednesday, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
“When it came down to it, I wanted to play on a contender,” Hamels said after signing a one-year deal worth 18 million dollars with the Braves. “I was very familiar with the Braves. I’ve watched them in the postseason and I’ve seen what they’ve been able to create. I’ve always been following them in hopes of maybe being able to pitch with some of those guys because they have such good young talent. I know at my stage of my career what I could provide could be beneficial.”
Hamels also said he had conversations with former teammates Jeff Francoeur and Ryan Howard about the possibility of signing with the Braves. Both had nothing but good things to say about the organization. Francoeur played five seasons with the Braves and currently covers the team as the lead television analyst on Fox Sports South. Howard signed a minor league deal with the Braves in April 2017 and was released a month later.
Earlier this offseason, Hamels made it clear that he would be willing to sign a one-year deal with a contending team. As many as 14 teams had inquired about the soon-to-be 36-year-old southpaw, according to Hamels’ long-time agent John Boggs. The defending NL East champions fit that mold and were willing to shell out the money for him.
The Braves so far have been the most active team on the free agent market. They significantly upgraded their bullpen by signing the best relief pitcher available in Will Smith to a three-year, 40 million dollar deal and resigned trade deadline acquisition Chris Martin to a two-year, 14 million dollar contract. They also inked catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year, 16 million dollar deal.
With the reported signing of Zack Wheeler to a five-year, 118 million dollar contract, the Phillies will begin to address other needs now that they finally added a top-of-the-line arm. The signing of Wheeler doesn’t necessarily take them out of the Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes. Radio.com’s Jon Heyman reported that the Phillies are one of five known teams in on the star pitcher.
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