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The Philadelphia Phillies Need to Make Re-Signing Cole Hamels Long-Term a Top Priority

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

The Philadelphia Phillies Need to Make Re-Signing Cole Hamels Long-Term a Top Priority

Photo: Getty Images, Chris McGrath

- Troy Ballard 

The Philadelphia Phillies were able to lock in young ace pitcher Cole Hamels for one more season with a $15 million deal, but need to address the importance of keeping him in Philly by signing him to a long-term contract.
Originally, this off-season, the Phillies were supposed to lock Hamels into that long-term deal. But after contract negotiations stalled between Hamels and Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., a one year deal was drawn up to avoid arbitration.
Reportedly, Hamels is willing to talk more about a long-term deal during the Phillies' spring training, which is a good step in the right direction. Signing a young talent like Hamels is easier said than done, and the Phillies could run into a few obstacles when discussing length and compensation. However, signing Hamels, at whatever cost it may be, is absolutely imperative to Philadelphia's long-term success.
Even though as of right now in the Phillies' dream rotation, Hamels is the third starter, his long-term value can not be overlooked. Both Roy Halladay (34) and Cliff Lee (33) are aging and are on a slow decline, and Hamels (28) still has yet to reach the peak of his career.
Halladay may be the best pitcher in baseball as of right now, but in two years, when his contract is up, that hardly will be the case. Last season, Lee was dominant for almost the entire year, but during some stretches he began to slow down and his age began to show. Hamels is the youngest ace on the team, and has yet to reach the Cy Young caliber pitching that is in his future.
The idea of letting Hamels test free agency at the end of this season would be suicide for the Phillies. Despite Hamels being in a perfect situation in Philadelphia with Halladay and Lee, there will be every other team in MLB throwing an offer towards him. Unfortunately, money is key, and Philadelphia could easily get out-bid by another big market team like the Yankees or Dodgers.
It's not a guarantee that if Hamels went into free agency the Phillies would lose him, but it's a totally unnecessary risk. The Southern California kid could possibly want to move closer to home, or go to a team that would have him as the definite ace in the rotation, and Hamels could be lured away from Philadelphia.
Amaro Jr. generally is great at keeping and bringing talent to the Phillies, but he has been known to be difficult and stingy with contract extensions. This can't be the case when he is trying to extend Hamels. Both Hamels and his agent have the higher ground and know that free agency will be a dream come true, and Amaro Jr. is going to have to bite the bullet.
Philadelphia has been dancing around trying to avoid the luxury tax, which makes perfect sense. But the Phillies are going to have to sacrifice something to get Hamels into a deal and also avoid the luxury tax, meaning that some pieces are going to have to be moved.
Again, Amaro Jr. is going to have to make it work by making moves, or take the hit of the luxury tax. It's going to be one or the other, and he needs to make a decision quickly as to not waste anytime locking Hamels into a deal.
Hamels is young, promising, and the sky is the limit. He has already carried the Phillies to one World Series win, and more than likely, he could do it again.
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