The Atlanta Braves have continued their shopping spree this off-season, as the club has signed veteran southpaw Cole Hamels to a one-year deal worth $18 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Hamels, who will be 36 on Opening Day, will enter the 15th year of his career once the season begins in March. In 2019, Hamels pitched to the tune of a 3.81 ERA in 141.2 innings with the Chicago Cubs, racking up 143 strikeouts in the process. He had pitched at an All-Star level in his first 17 starts, posting a 2.98 ERA and a .658 OPS against, but after hurting his oblique, posted just a 5.79 ERA and had a .903 OPS against in 10 appearances. That, as well as a WHIP of 1.39, was worrisome.
Hamels debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 and helped lead the team to the 2008 World Series, where he won the World Series MVP. He was a coveted arm in their rotation for years before a blockbuster trade to the Texas Rangers at the 2015 Trade Deadline that saw Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Williams, Matt Harrison, Jake Thompson, and Alec Asher go back to Philadelphia. Three years later, Hamels was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he had a brilliant second half to the year, posting a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts.
For Atlanta, this gives the team seven (!!) free agent signings before the Winter Meetings, with $98.75 million being spent so far. Everyone except for Chris Martin, Will Smith, and Travis d’Arnaud have signed for one-year though, which still leaves the door open for a return of Josh Donaldson and more pitching options like Madison Bumgarner. Atlanta can also give Hamels a qualifying offer at the end of the season if he has a strong 2020 campaign as well, as he has never been offered one prior to this off-season.
Atlanta has the room to make a significant trade as well, as they have an abundance of pitching depth in the minor leagues, with notable prospects in the upper tiers. Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Muller, and Huascar Ynoa, the top pitching prospects in their system according to MLB.com, are all in either AA or AAA and can be moved this off-season.