Cole Hamels, one of the decade’s most reliable left-handed starting pitchers, has reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
Entering his age-36 season, Hamels brings experience and clubhouse leadership to a rotation that features Mike Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz.
This past year with the Chicago Cubs, the four-time All-Star was making a bid for another appearance in the midsummer classic before a strained oblique in his 17th start extinguished those hopes. At the time of his injury on June 28, Hamels possessed a 2.98 ERA. He ended up missing a month, but was not the same pitcher when he returned.
Hamels finished 2019 with a 3.81 ERA across 27 starts, including the highest WHIP and walk rate of his career.
Only once since Hamels’ rookie year in 2006 has he made fewer starts than he did last season. In 2017, it was also a strained oblique that limited the southpaw to 24 starts.
The reported deal with the Braves is remarkably the first free-agent pact of Hamels’ 14-year career. Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, he signed a six-year, $144 million extension with them in 2012 before subsequent trades sent him to the Texas Rangers and Cubs, who exercised a club option to keep him in Chicago last season but then did not make him a qualifying offer.
Most recently an All-Star in 2016 with the Rangers, Hamels’ three previous selections came in the first half of his career as a member of the Phillies, whom he helped guide to glory in 2008 as both NLCS MVP and World Series MVP.
While Hamels won’t be expected to reach those heights and does carry injury risk in the twilight of his career, the Braves are hoping the San Diego native can help them advance to the World Series.
Hamels had also been linked to his hometown Padres and Los Angeles Angels among other teams.
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