Cole Hamels Proving He’s Going to Be Far and Away Best Pitcher on Free Agent Market


Cole Hamels Proving He's Going to Be Far and Away Best Pitcher on Free Agent MarketCole Hamels has always been a very fine pitcher. This season, however, he looks to be taking his game to another level as he enters his prime.

That will make him a very, very wealthy man this offseason.

A first-round pick in 2002, Hamels has only gotten better as his career has progressed, culminating this season with a league-leading seven wins. On the heels of another gem on Thursday night against the Nationals (eight scoreless innings, four hits and eight strikeouts), Hamels has lowered his ERA to 2.17, while he's averaging just a hair over one base runner per inning.

The Phillies pitching staff is obviously loaded with the likes of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay making their turns in the rotation, but Hamels has been the best this season. 

It's still too early to tell if Hamels will spend an entire season as the Phillies' best pitcher, but if he can continue to perform at anything rivaling this level, he'll also be by far the best pitcher on the market this offseason.

Hamels, who is making $15 million this season, may be poised for a raise this winter. If he continues to mow down hitters, he could even end up with the richest contract for a pitcher in baseball history.

Hamels is the type of can't-miss free agent that teams will fall over themselves to sign. He's just entered his prime as someone who will be 29 years old on Opening Day next season. Sure, paying him until he's 36 may not be the greatest thing in the world, but that's the business of baseball, and he'll probably still make it worth your while.

Not that durability has been much of an issue with Hamels. He's averaged 206 innings over the course of his five full seasons in the bigs (a number he's on pace to fly by this season), making 32 starts per season over that span as well. Most of those starts were pretty darn good, too.

It will be a strong market for starting pitching this offseason, no doubt. Hamels should lead the way, but front-of-the-rotation arms like James Shields, Zack Greinke and Brandon McCarthy may all be poised to make big money as well.

Hamels will tower over all of them, though, and he may even challenge Josh Hamilton as potentially the most desirable free agent this winter.

Of course, this is all contingent upon the Phillies letting Hamels getting to free agency. Hamels is reportedly seeking a seven-year contract extension from the Phils, and they'll have to weigh their options when it comes to locking up Hamels long term.

Hamels' future is still very up in the air, that much is evident. So, too, is the fact that Hamels will likely be a very, very popular man in a few months.

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