Heading into the offseason where they cut ties with Julio Teheran and lost former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, the Atlanta Braves have been very active so far this offseason, signing relievers Chris Martin, Will Smith and Darren O’Day, while also signing catcher Travis d’Arnuad. However, none of them addressed the rotation that features only 3 pitchers…until now.
According to ESPNs Jeff Passan, the Braves have struck a 1-year, $18 Million contract with former World Series champion Cole Hamels. Hamels, who had a down second half in his second season with the Chicago Cubs in 2019 due to an oblique injury, still saw stellar results at 35. He pitched to a quality 3.81 era in the friendly confines in a year the ball was jumping out of the park and was solid enough to be a 3-win player per BBRef’s WAR calculations, which have him at 59.4 cumulative, in other words, 2-3 solid seasons away from being a Hall of Fame talent.
Hamels, who was on the radar of NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies, spent his first 9 full seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, before being traded right before 10-5 rights kicked in. After 2 1/2 seasons with the Texas Rangers, he’s spent parts in the last 2 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He’s pitched in the postseason with all 3 clubs, including a run in 2008 where he led the Phils to their World Series victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. He was the 2008 World Series MVP.
The Braves, however, have seen their starting pitching falter in the postseason back to back years, highlighted this year in the 13-1 loss against the Cardinals in the NLDS, started by Mike Foltynewicz. Not only that, but the LHP experience will offer a lot of intangibles to a Braves staff that includes Max Fried and Sean Newcomb, who will pick the brain of a potential Hall of Fame bound ace. In 14 seasons at the major league level, Hamels has pitched to a great 3.42 ERA and has recorded 2,558 strikeouts. He has an outside shot at 3,000 Ks which is considered a Cooperstown milestone. He is known for his excellent control, giving only 766 batters a free pass over his career. At 36, how much he has left remains to be seen but being it’s a one year deal, it doesn’t strap the Braves longterm if it doesn’t work out and it keeps Hamels out of the reach of a rival. This is a great deal for both sides.
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