For as critical as I sometimes am of Cole Hamels, in the month of June, he pitched about as well as you can.
In six starts in June, Hamels was only 1-1 due to a lack of run support, but very well could have won five or six games this month with the 1.23 ERA that he posted.
With that type of ERA, the $90 million that Hamels is guaranteed over the next four years (with a six million dollar buyout for the fifth-year), doesn’t look as big as many once thought. Given the fact that Hamels is only 30, and isn’t necessarily someone who relies on a high-90’s fastball as an out pitch, Hamels seems to be as much of a sure thing as you can get for that type of price over the next four years.
Will he continue to pitch at this current level? Most likely not, because he has only pitched at a Cy-Young level a couple times in his career, but he is going to remain a very good pitcher for the next four or five years. But while he is pitching at that Cy-Young level seems to be an opportune time for the Phillies to try to trade him.
Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe agrees with my assessment, but doesn’t think the Phillies will ultimately move the 2008 World Series MVP.
6. Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies — After this season, he has four years and $90 million remaining on his deal. That seems like a number the Red Sox would love for an elite lefthanded starter. It was part of Hamels’s six-year, $144 million deal, the numbers that seem to be attached to Jon Lester and his impending free agency. Taking the Red Sox out of the equation, the Phillies seem to be torn between trading Hamels and getting shiny new pieces or building around him. In June, he’s got a 1.23 ERA, and he’s gone at least seven innings in 10 straight starts. Hamels has a limited no-trade clause, and it says here he remains a Philly.
Hamels, and even Cliff Lee potentially, figure to be backup options for teams that are interested in David Price. Will they get as much as the Rays would for Price? No, but with Price you aren’t taking on a massive contract, you are taking on a pitcher who is under team control through the end of the 2015 season, and figures to be cheaper than either Hamels or Lee during that time period.
I still think in Hamels’ case, the Phillies should at least explore their options. If they have to eat a good amount of money to get a minimal return for the lefty, then it doesn’t make sense to trade him. But if a team that misses out on Price is committed to getting a top of the rotation arm and wants to overpay or just give you a package of two or three very good prospects for Hamels, then I’m certainly taking that phone call.