The Phillies’ top priority this offseason should be bolstering their shaky starting rotation. According to Todd Zolecki, one possibility for that bolstering is a very familiar name:
The #Phillies need starting pitchers. Cole Hamels needs a job. A Phillies-Hamels reunion makes sense, especially because he is willing to take a one-year deal to play for a contender. https://t.co/Z0KLqLWSMp— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 7, 2019
Based on his quotes, it sounds like Cole Hamels, the Phillies’ former ace and 2008 World Series MVP would be very interested in returning to the team. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that when sports teams bring back former players who successful in 2008, it always turns out well.
On paper, the move makes a lot of sense. As mentioned, when predicting the Phillies’ 2020 rotation, there are at least two spots that should currently be marked as “TBD.” And Hamels has proven capable of providing quality innings. He’s been worth more than two wins according to fWAR the past two seasons, and projections have him maintaining that level for 2020.
Before everyone starts angrily tweeting at the Phillies’ account asking why the deal hasn’t been done yet, we should recognize that there are potential drawbacks to a reunion. Even though he’s been mostly healthy throughout his career, he’ll turn 36 next month, and that number alone makes him an injury risk.
And while Hamels says he’s open to a reunion (Breaking news: Free agent says he’s open to playing for potential suitor), he’d also have to deal with the burden of fan expectations in Philadelphia. Despite his postseason heroics, the relationship between Hamels and the fans was never as loving as it probably should have been. Even though everyone should recognize that we’re not going to get the ace of a decade ago, it won’t stop some fans from being disappointed when Hamels isn’t as good as he was in 2011.
That’s not to say the Phillies shouldn’t sign him. Even at 36, he’s a better bet for next season than counting on Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to finally put it together. If the price is right - and considering he’s apparently looking for a short-term deal, it would hard for it to not be - I’d love to see Hamels in the middle of the 2020 rotation.
As for the nostalgia factor, I realize that DeSean Jackson disappointed us, but when a team hasn’t made the playoffs in eight years, a reminder of better days might not be the worst thing in the world.