The Padres and left-hander Cole Hamels are in agreement on a minor league deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. Presumably, Hamels will receive an invitation to major league Spring Training once the deal is finalized. The southpaw is represented by John Boggs & Associates.
Hamels, 39, is a wild card at this point in his career. He spent many years as one of the most reliable and consistent hurlers in the big leagues but has barely pitched at all over the past three seasons. From 2006 through 2019, he logged just shy of 2,700 innings with a 3.42 ERA in that time. He pitched at least 132 frames in all 14 of those campaigns and topped 180 in 11 of them. His ERA was never higher than 4.32 in any individual season and he kept that mark under 4.00 in all but three of those years. He also pitched in the postseason in eight of those campaigns, winning NLCS and World Series MVP honors in 2008 with the world champion Phillies.
But as mentioned, the story has been flipped in recent years. Hamels signed a one-year, $18MM deal with Atlanta for 2020 but was slowed by shoulder irritation as the start of the season neared. The pandemic ended up putting everything on pause, giving him time to recuperate. Once things ramped up again, however, he was dealing with triceps tendinitis. He came off the injured list in September and made one start, but went right back on the IL after that.
He didn’t sign with anyone in the subsequent offseason, eventually holding a showcase in July of 2021 to demonstrate his health to interested clubs. The Dodgers signed him at that point but he was ruled out for the season just a couple of weeks later with his shoulder pain returning. He didn’t pitch at all in 2022, recently telling the Associated Press that he underwent three surgeries in the past year, on his left shoulder, right knee and left foot. Nonetheless, he still had his sights set on a comeback and held a showcase for scouts last month. The Padres were connected to him and Michael Wacha in rumors a few days ago and have now added both pitchers to their staff.
It’s tough to know what to expect from Hamels at this point. That single start in 2020 is his only appearance over the past three years and he’s been under the knife quite a bit since then. But since this is just a minor league deal, there’s no real risk for the Padres. They can bring him into camp and see if Hamels is capable of getting back on track at all.
Up until recently, the club had a fairly lopsided rotation. Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell provided them with a strong front three but there were question marks behind them. The frontrunners for the backend spots in the rotation were Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo, both of whom are not really established as starters. Martinez had better results out of the bullpen last year while Lugo hasn’t really been a starter since 2017. The signing of Wacha this week could help to firm up the back of the rotation since he put up a 3.32 ERA with the Red Sox last year.
Hamels will be trying to prove himself healthy and force his way into that mix. If either Lugo or Martinez struggle in their attempts to secure rotation jobs, the Padres will need other options on hand. And there are also the inevitable pitcher injuries to consider. They have other options on the roster, such as Adrián Morejón, Jay Groome, Brent Honeywell Jr., Reiss Knehr, Ryan Weathers and Pedro Avila, but if Hamels looks anything like his old self, he could leapfrog all of those guys. If he does so, he’ll be pitching for his hometown team, having been born and raised in the San Diego area.
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