Posted on December 4, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Atlanta Braves continue to be one of the most proactive teams in baseball this offseason, and we’re not even to the Winter Meetings. On Wednesday, the Braves continued their offseason business, signing veteran starter Cole Hamels. The two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $18 million. Atlanta has already upgraded their bullpen with Will Smith and their lineup with Travis d’Arnaud, and now they’ve improved their rotation with the addition of Hamels.
The 35-year-old Hamels has proven over the last year and a half that he has plenty of staying power. He struggled during the first half of the 2018 season while with the Rangers but turned things around after a midseason trade to the Cubs. Hamels stayed in Chicago this past season, going 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA over 27 starts. The lefty had plenty of ups and downs during the season, especially after missing a month with an oblique injury. However, Hamels pitched to a 2.98 ERA during the first half of the season when he was healthy, proving that he can still be effective when healthy.
There was roughly a dozen teams interested in signing Hamels, according to reports. There were strong links between Hamels and clubs like the White Sox and Phillies. Of course, Hamels spent the early part of his career in Philadelphia, so a reunion between Hamels and the Phillies was certainly intriguing. In the end, Hamels is heading back to the NL East but with a different team.
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Not only does Hamels bring plenty of experience to the Atlanta rotation, but he also brings postseason experience. Hamels has 16 career playoff starts under his belt, as well as one relief appearance with the Cubs in 2018. He’s 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA in the playoffs, making him someone the Braves can trust if they make it back to October. After winning the NL East the past two seasons, the Braves surely have their sights set on a deep playoff run in 2020, so adding a veteran pitcher who has postseason experience like Hamels seems to be a perfect fit for them.
Of course, how the rest of the Atlanta rotation looks in 2020 is a little unclear. The Braves declined to tender Julio Teheran a contract after the season while lefty Dallas Keuchel is a free agent. Hamels would appear to be taking Keuchel’s spot in Atlanta’s rotation as a veteran lefty who can help anchor a young rotation.
At the moment, Mike Soroka is the unquestioned headliner in Atlanta’s rotation after a phenomenal 2019 campaign. The Braves are hopeful that if Mike Foltynewicz can perform the way he did throughout 2018 and the second half of 2018, he and Hamels can serve as frontline starters behind Soroka. Beyond that trio, Max Fried is a safe bet to remain in the rotation after winning 17 games in 2019. However, the Braves appear unsure of who their fifth starter will be right now. Of course, the addition of Hamels leaves them with just the one spot in the rotation to fill, rather than two.
For a team like the Braves that’s in win-now mode, Hamels is the ideal addition. They fill a vacancy in their rotation without committing money beyond next season. They also add a trustworthy starter who can still perform like a frontline starter and who has plenty of playoff experience. As long as he stays healthy and continues to perform the way he has for the last year and a half, Hamels will be a great addition to the Braves and should improve Atlanta’s chances or returning to the playoffs in 2020.