Cole Hamels fell just short of getting the biggest deal ever given to a
pitcher, but he easily became the highest paid Phillies player in history. The
Phillies signed Hamels, 28, to a six-year, $144 million deal that has a vesting
option for a seventh season that would push the total package to $160 million.
The deal also includes a limited no-trade clause.
"The timing of the trade deadline is ultimately what made things
happen," Hamels' agent John Boggs told USA TODAY. "The last three
days, they made a very aggressive push on us. The Phillies had to address this
and address it now."
At a press conference announcing the deal, Hamels said he was struck by the
reaction of the crowd at Citizens Bank Park when he walked off the field in his
last start with the team. It was thought Hamels may be making his last start
there in a Phillies uniform and the crowd gave him a standing ovation even after
he had given up a lead in the game against the Giants. "I wanted to give
the Phillies every opportunity [to re-sign me]. It's really hard to leave a
place where you have so many good memories and so many more good ones to
come," explained Hamels.
The deal officially takes Hamels off the trade market where he was likely
headed had he turned down the Phillies offer. At various times, there were
rumors of Hamels being dealt to the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers or other
teams looking for starting pitching prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
Depending on how the deal is structured, the Phillies have as much as $128
million committed to seven players - Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins - leading to speculation
about how they're going to be able to keep the payroll under the $178 million
luxury tax payroll level. Making things even more difficult is the fact that
Hunter Pence is also arbitration eligible and could make as much as $15 million
In a radio interview after the press conference, GM Ruben Amaro didn't seem
too concerned about the payroll. "I think we can still do some things
financially. And, in the end, I've never been told that we absolutely can't go
over any certain amount, but obviously, we want to be careful about how we spend