Posted by Kevin Durso
Cole Hamels won 14 games in 2011, and has won 74 games in his six-year career with the Phillies. (Kevin Durso/Philliedelphia)
The Phillies' biggest free agent worry is for next offseason, not the one rapidly coming to an end.
Cole Hamels may sit third in the Phillies' super rotation, behind Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, both inked to megadeals. But Hamels is number one on the Phillies' to-do list.
That being said, Hamels is and is not the pitcher of the Phillies' future. Hamels is 28 and in the prime of his career. Halladay and Lee are inked to deal that will keep them with the Phillies through 2014 and 2015 respectively. Hamels is the pitcher of the Phillies' future depending on what Halladay and Lee decide about their baseball careers once their contracts are up. Hamels' is also not the pitcher of the Phillies' future if he is viewed as the third man on the totem pole.
Hamels and the Phillies have been discussing extensions this offseason, trying to avoid the free agent market next offseason. The Phillies are interested in a one-year deal for Hamels at the moment, as made known by Phillies' assistant GM Scott Proefrock.
“Right now, we’re focused on a one-year deal. There’s plenty of time down the road. That’s all I’ll say. Right now, we’re focused on a one-year arbitration deal."
The Phillies seem content to wait until next offseason and take their chances on locking Hamels' up to a larger extension. That being said, the Phillies will likely have some hefty competition, as Hamels will be coveted by many teams in baseball.
At first, the news that the Phillies are working on a one-year deal with Hamels doesn't seem right. Why would you only extend Hamels for a year? But at a closer look, this is more of an extension on hold. The Phillies are focused on keeping Hamels happy to play in Philly, and happy with the Phillies' brass, so that perhaps the extension process, when it comes around next season, is easier.
If the Phillies fail to keep Hamels through 2012, then this will look like a plan that backfired. But for now, taking focus off of the off-the-field work and shifting the players' attention to the on-the-field preparations for Opening Day is the right call.
There is time to wait on Hamels, but once November 2012 hits, and free agency begins, if Hamels' isn't locked up by then, there won't be too much time left.