The Milwaukee Brewers will add to their starting rotation during this off season. But is Cole Hamels a possible solution to their current needs?
2020 will be Cole Hamels‘ age-36 season. He hasn’t posted a WAR over 3.0 since 2016, but it’s clear that he still has Major League innings left in his career. He isn’t an ace any more, but he can contribute to a contending team. Should the Milwaukee Brewers look to add Hamels to their rotation mix this off season?
How did Hamels throw in 2019?
Hamels was actually pretty solid for a mediocre Chicago Cubs rotation. He made 27 starts, threw 141 2/3 innings, and managed a 3.81 ERA for the Brewers rival. He struck out 143, walked 56, and surrendered 17 homers.
He averaged 91.4 MPH on his fastball in 2019 which was in-line with his 91.6 MPH career average. He may have over 2,600 innings in the Majors, but he’s yet to see a significant drop in velocity. He’s managed to get by with an amazing cutter and a solid change up, and that should continue as he marches towards 40.
What kind of a deal will he want in 2020?
Based on his recent comments, he’s looking to continue his career as long as baseball is still fun and he’s on a contending team. If that means going year-to-year for the rest of his career in professional baseball, he’s good with it. A one-year deal with an option could make sense for Hamels if the dollars are right.
How many dollars would that be again?
Hamels just ended a contract that saw him earn an average annual value of $24 million over the past six years. Including bonuses, he’s earned over $180 million in his 13 years in the Majors.
MLBTradeRumors.com has Hamels getting a two-year deal worth $30 million. Would a one-year deal for $12 million-to-$14 million with a mutual option that has a raise to $16 million-to-$18 million be any different?
What would Hamels bring to Milwaukee?
He won’t require a long term commitment, and wouldn’t bust the Brewers 2020 budget. He would also bring a much needed veteran presence to a relatively young starting rotation. His playoff and big game experience could also be helpful next September and October. Rolling Hamels out for a one-game playoff or a key game in a playoff series looks a lot better than turning to Freddy Peralta or hoping that the bullpen can piece together a full game.
Additionally, Hamels is left-handed. The Brewers have lacked a solid left-handed option in their rotation for a few years, and he looks a bit more appealing than another season of Gio Gonzalez as the sole lefty in the rotation.
Hamels is no longer the staff anchor that he was, but he can provide quality innings, and still has more than enough in the tank to throw 150 innings for a contending team. The Brewers would have to manage Hamels’ workload, but he could make a huge impact in a limited role as a fourth starter who occasionally needs a maintenance day.
Hamels is the type of veteran that makes sense for a team in ‘win-now’ mode, and the Brewers should have him on their list the same as Hamels should have the Brewers on his. He won’t solve the ‘ace problem’, but he can help a team that was desperate for a capable veteran.