Braves sign lefty Cole Hamels to one-year deal

Gabriel Burns, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Baseball

ATLANTA -- The Braves wanted to add a veteran to their rotation. They landed a former familiar foe.

Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Braves agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal on Wednesday, the team announced.

Hamels, who turns 36 later this month, produced a 3.81 ERA with 143 strikeouts against 56 walks last season for the Cubs. He pitched 141-1/3 innings after being limited by a left oblique strain, failing to log over 190 innings for only the second time in 10 seasons. He also was stalled by a more serious oblique strain in 2017 with the Rangers.

Before the recent strain, Hamels was brilliant. He owned a 2.98 ERA across 17 starts (99-2/3 innings). When he returned over a month later, he posted a 5.79 ERA over his final 10 outings.

It had been reported Hamels was intrigued by a short-term deal with a contender. Some speculated that a return to the National League East -- be it with the Phillies, Braves or Nationals -- and joining a franchise in his native California made sense.

Hamels made a name for himself in Philadelphia, where he pitched from 2006 through part of 2015. He was a three-time All-Star for the Phillies, winning National League Championship Series and World Series MVP honors in 2008.


The Braves lost two veterans in their rotation when Dallas Keuchel hit free agency and the club declined its option on Julio Teheran. Hamels fills part of that void and brings a comparable resume to Keuchel, who's unlikely to be re-signed.

Hamels wasn't attached to a qualifying offer, meaning the Braves didn't relinquish a pick for signing him. They could still pursue Madison Bumgarner, who comes with a qualifying offer attached, or another seasoned starter to complete their rotation. It's worth noting the Braves already have two lefties in their rotation with Hamels and Max Fried.

It hasn't been a quiet offseason for the Braves, who already had signed relievers Will Smith, Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, along with catcher Travis d'Arnaud, before the Hamels deal.

The team has spent over $45 million for 2020 salary in free agency. Total contracts, including those given to mainstays Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers, exceed $80 million. Yet only Smith's deal runs beyond two seasons.


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