Here’s How a Hamels Deal Gets Done…

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, March 29, 2012 09:00 AM | Comments: 26
Free Agency, Transactions

We’re about 200 days from major league free agents being able to sign with teams other than their own. One such player is Cole Hamels, whose contract with the Phillies ends after the 2012 season. If Hamels isn’t re-signed within six days of the end of the 2012 World Series, he can sign elsewhere.

I’ve been documenting Hamels’ contract status for almost a year. It began last May with a comparison of a Hamels deal and the contract signed by Tigers ace Justin Verlander. It continued in late-August after Jered Weaver signed a team-friendly pact with the Angels.

As time has worn on, those two deals have become less and less meaningful with regard to Hamels’ impending payday. We aren’t looking at numbers like $85 or $90 million. We’re looking more so at a figure close to $120 million.

I wrote several months ago that a five-year, $100 million contract with a sixth-year team option at $22 million (with a $12 million buyout) would likely get Hamels signed. He gets his $20 million per season but the Phillies avoid handing out a six- or seven-year deal. The contract would be worth, at most, $122 million and at least $112MM.

On Wednesday, CSNPhilly.com Phillies insider Jim Salisbury reported that talks between the Phillies and Hamels have progressed, especially in the wake of the Dodgers being sold for $2 billion to an ownership group that will seek to make a splash in the coming years.

“One person with knowledge of the situation says the Phils know how much Hamels will cost – $20 million or more per season – and are set to pay it,” wrote Salisbury. “The person said the length of the deal is an issue, that the Phillies would like to do a four-year deal and Hamels wants more.”

The Phillies are offering four years like Jimmy Rollins wanted five in free agency. It’s unrealistic. Hamels would likely find a seven-year deal in free agency. Four is absurdly low for a pitcher of Hamels’ caliber. Four-year deals work for pitchers like Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Ryan Dempster. Not for a 28-year-old former World Series MVP in the prime of his career. Not for a pitcher who has a 2.92 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 300 more strikeouts than walks the past two seasons.

It’s a negotiation tactic. Start at four years and maybe you avoid six.

Salisbury said in both print and in a phone interview on “Daily News Live” that the Phillies feel optimistic and confident that a deal can be reached sooner rather than later.

It makes sense for the Phillies to get a deal done quickly — Hamels’ value will only increase with another brilliant season.

But a quick agreement also makes sense for Hamels himself, especially after watching his close friend Ryan Madson suffer a season-ending elbow injury that will likely forever derail Madson’s hopes for a huge payday.

Madson signed for $8.5 million this off-season with plans to re-test the market and secure a pricey multi-year deal this winter. But after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Madson will have to re-prove himself on an incentive-laden one-year deal that likely hovers around $4 million.

For Madson, a catastrophic injury will cost him approximately $25 million. For Hamels, it could easily be worth three-times that.

If the Phillies make an offer of five years, $100 million — guaranteeing Hamels at least $112 million and as much as $120MM — I don’t see how that offer gets left on the table.

The Phillies can afford it. Even if they give Hamels as much as $22 million per season, their 2013 payroll would be under a luxury tax threshold which then increases by $11 million in 2014.

It’s just going to come down to how long the Phillies stick to this artificial four-year offer before succumbing to the best homegrown pitcher they’ve ever developed.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    I would think that if some team out there…maybe a few…would be willing to offer him 7 years, then the Phillies have to have six on the table in some way. I like the 5/100 with a 6th year as an option with the 12M buyout. But don’t you really think that that’s still kinda low? I mean, 25M per season is not out of the question for this guy. Just how much is he willing to leave on the table in order to stay here??…which he has said that he wants to do.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I believe that Cole Hamels can get 7/165 out of a team. Sabathia’s contract average’s that per season. Sabathia is a bit better than Cole but Cole is younger. I will go on record saying that I don’t think that Hamels will resign here. I hope I’m wrong.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 1190 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      I highly doubt that Cole will milk it to that extreme… Technically he could get 7 out of another team, but I don’t think that’s what his agent will do with the Phillies. Cliff Lee, who’s not homegrown, took 5 years with a vesting for a 6th… Roy Halladay, who’s not homegrown, took 3 years plus a vesting for a 4th. Yes, both are older than Hamels… but they’re arguably better pitchers and CY-Young winners.

      I see them agreeing to a 5 year deal with an easy vesting option for a 6th. Something similar to the Lee deal.

      I don’t like comparing Hamels’ situation to Sabathia’s because Sabathia clearly went for the most money… that seemed to be his only factor. Recall how he didn’t even want to play for the Yankees but went there anyway because of the money. Cliff Lee didn’t do that. Cole wouldn’t either. (And FYI, Cole right now is a better pitcher than Sabathia.)

    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      If this drags on until the All Star break, you’ll be correct and Hamels will be gone. Hamels will easily get seven years on the open market. They’re already saying that the next Dodgers television contract (coming up after next season) will be the largest in history. They’ll be big players once again. Cain, Greinke, and Hamels will all be free agents this fall…Cole is the best of the three.

  • Posts: 0 phil

    The phillies should have locked Cole up long term after the 2010 season and they could have had him then on a song probably something like his 2011 contract year $12 mil for his final arbitration years and $15 million for his first 2 free agent years with a $17 million option and $2 million buyout for another option year or two. Now he is one of the best pitchers in baseball and on pace for the hall of fame. He can get sabathia money from the Yankeee dodgers red sox or nationals on the open market. I think it will take us a 6 year deal at $20 million per with an option.

  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Manny, I’ve said this before but I think that Cole is better than Cliff. Or, at least, I feel he WILL BE by the time he’s Cliff’s age now (34). Which, then, one could argue that at 34 he could be looking at ANOTHER big contract. Maybe that would keep him in Philly ….knowing that if he stays healthy, etc…. that he could cash in TWICE???

    • Posts: 1190 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      I agree with that. My favorite stat for comparing pitchers is SIERA, which shows you that our top 3 are basically on the same level.

      If you look at the past two seasons, this is what you get:

      1. Halladay 2.85
      2. Lee 2.90
      3. Hamels 3.15
      4. Kershaw 3.16
      5. Greinke 3.21
      6. Felix 3.21
      7. Verlander 3.22
      8. Morrow 3.31
      9. Latos 3.33
      10. Lincecum 3.33

      If you look at 2011 only,

      1. Greinke 2.66
      2. Lee 2.72
      3. Halladay 2.79
      4. Kershaw 2.81
      5. Verlander 2.99
      6. Hamels 3.03
      7. Sabathia 3.14
      8. Bumgarner 3.18
      9. Gallardo 3.22
      10. Felix 3.22

      At this point, I think Cliff and Cole are virtually at the same level… but I’ll agree with you that Cole has a good chance of being better than Cliff by the time he’s 33/34. I think he would be wise to push and get as much as he can from the Phillies now, and then seek to extend with us when he’s 32 or 33 for three or four more years (what Doc did).

      In an ideal world, for both the Phils and Cole, Cole would get Cliff money/years now… then Doc money/years once that initial deal expires or gets close to expiring.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Cole is 28. He’s won a WS. Why wouldn’t he wanna set himself, his kids, their kids and on and on up for the rest of their lives? This is his Big Contract. We don’t know if he will stay here for less. I think he would if its was a little less but someone will give him 7 and perhaps 24m a season v. the Phillies at probably 5 years. Thats not a little less. Thats a lot less. Is there a team out there that will give him 8 years?

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 psujoe

      I would hope that $112 million on top of the $30 million Cole has already made would be enough to set up his family for life. If he roles the dice and has a catastrophic injury he gets 0. He will sign for $22 mil or less per year for 5 years with a nice buyout once the season starts.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’ve been “on the record that nobody’s keeping track of anyway” … that Hamels is staying in Philadelphia … they want him here, and he wants to be here ….. they’ll reach an agreement.

    about the SIERA stuff . . . . that was one of the tools I used to pick Zach Grienke as my NL CY Young this year (other staff-predictions coming soon to a blog post near you!)

    Great pitcher, in a contract year, and should have good run support even without Prince Fielder … and Brandon Morrow -(SP-Blue Jays) is my breakout star

  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    It sounds like they WILL reach a deal.. And it helps that he doesn’t have a d*ck for an agent.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    If he hasnt been locked up by AS break i think he wont be here. I think the Phils have to maintain their 3 Aces for long as possible.

  • Posts: 5233 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I’m not predicting anything, Hamels may well sign here, and soon. Cole’s agent John Boggs and his client Adrian Gonzales signed with Boston in April last season.

    But I just wanted to point out that the Sabathia deal took place in 2008 or early 2009 (I can’t remember which). If Hamels tests the waters in 2012 , you have to figure some measure of inflation over 4 years. So I don’t look at the Sabathia deal as what he will be offered, I believe it would be more.

    Then you have those lunatics, Magic Johnson and co. who just bid hundreds of millions of dollars more than needed to purchase the Dodgers. (they could have bought the Dodgers and Astros with that bid) It would seem they would be willing to do the same with FA’s, and I don’t get the feeling that they would even think about the L.T. threshold.

    And, the Phils could still go after Matt Cain if Hamels won’t sign.

  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I agree that the Phillies need to do this soon. If i understand the salary/luxury tax correctly they could not do it his past off season because if they extend him during the season then the average money does not effect this year. Part of me thinks they discussed this when they signed him for one year to avoid arbitration. If years are the problem and not salary, can’t they give him 5 years with two vesting years, I may be wrong but doesn’t Lee have two vesting years on his contract. I think if they give offer five years 20 million with one or two vesting options that are easably attained baring injury, Cole will take it and be happy. One other thing that may effect it if he is not locked up soon is how well they do this year and if the supporting staff can step up this year and support him on the mound

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Even teams like the Astros are getting big television contracts thanks to advertisers looking for people who don’t use DVRs.

    Just make it small up front and let the deal balloon once the new TV contract goes into effect. Make the average around $20 or so million a year.

    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      A $20 million average won’t get this done.

  • Posts: 0 Corey Seidman

    The proposed sixth year option would make it $20.333MM per year over six years if exercised, or $22.4MM per year over five years if they buy out the last year.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    I love Cole, really. No need to rehash what he has meant to this franchise but, one of the best scoring offenses in the ML and he has not won more than 15 games in a season.
    He does not get offered superstar money. If he does, I hope its with some other team foolish enough to pay it.

    How about if Cole were smart, he’d go 2 for 25 to 30 mil. If he nails these next few years (what were the old standards? Win 20 or more, be a CY contender again), he can claim the mega million jackpot at the age of 30 (31) for 6 or 7 years.

    • Posts: 0 Geoff

      The significance of the won-loss record has been recognized as small. It’s just not important. I see a player who already has 1000 strikeouts and a very low WHIP, which is a more accurate measure of a pitcher’s worth.

      If you doubt me, just ask King Felix about the importance of the won-loss record.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      At the same age, Carlton had just completed his 1972 27-10 season, which had followed a 20-9 season.

      Even so, this is how they compare at the same age:

      Carlton: 104-72 (.591), 124 ERA+, 1.22 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
      Hamels: 74-54 (.578), 126 ERA+, 1.14 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

      Pitcher wins are not the most meaningful stat to judge by, which is why you have three starting pitchers winning Cy Young awards with 16, 15, and 13 wins since 2009.

      Hamels will get the “mega million jackpot” after 2012 (barring injury or total collapse), so no need for him to take a two year deal and risk what happened to Madson.

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