Cole Hamels has agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. He will be the fourth starter on an otherwise young rotation for the 2019 division winners.
Atlanta has not yet confirmed the signing, although that confirmation is expected soon.
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The one-year deal will reportedly net Hamels $18 million in 2020. That will make him Atlanta’s second-highest-paid player behind only Freddie Freeman ($22 million).
Hamels was 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA during a spectacularly uneven 2018 whose unpredictability appeared to turn off some potential suitors. During the season’s first half, teams batted just .234 against Hamels with a .659 opponents’ OPS. During an injury-marred second half, those numbers ballooned to .315 and .903.
He will be 36 years old on opening day.
Hamels will be pitching for his fourth major league team. In 10 seasons with the Phillies, he went 114-90 and was a star with their 2008 World Series champions. Traded to the Rangers in mid-season 2015, he was 38-21 before being traded to the Cubs in mid-season 2018. In Chicago, he was 11-10.
One open question will be what if anything, the Hamels signing means for the market for free-agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Atlanta was reported to be a likely landing spot for Bumgarner, and the Brave still might be.
There remains an obvious fifth spot open in the team’s rotation.
However, the signing of another veteran left-hander might signal a decrease in Atlanta’s interest in Bumgarner. It may also constitute a pre-emptive recognition that the former Giants left-hander had more intriguing offers, and that he wasn’t headed to the Atlanta Braves anyway.
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