At the age of 35, left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels is now a free agent for the first time in his long MLB career, after the Chicago Cubs decided against giving him a qualifying offer ahead of Monday's deadline. While it's still far from clear where he may be signing in free agency, the veteran hurler admitted in a recent interview that he wouldn't mind returning to the team where he spent almost all of his first decade in the majors -- the Philadelphia Phillies.
Speaking to MLB.com earlier this week, Hamels said that at this point in his career, he would want to join a team that has a good chance of contending for a postseason spot. And with the Phillies "finally trying to make that push" to return to the World Series, the pitcher said that he would "love the opportunity" to sign with the team, even if it would be up to Philadelphia to determine whether he fits the organization's plans.
"It's probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans. It would be difficult for me to say, 'Hey, I want to play there, can you guys make it happen?' But I'm always willing to play for that team and city and attempt to win a World Series. That's where I am right now."Given that he doesn't want to "handcuff" any MLB team by demanding a long and lucrative contract, Hamels also stressed that he expects to bounce around the league a bit for as long as he's still able to pitch in the majors. He suggested that when it comes to the Phillies, he would be willing to consider a more long-term deal, but emphasized that his main priority is to maximize his chances of making the postseason before he wraps up his career. Talking about the chances of Hamels reuniting with the Phillies, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki wrote that Philadelphia didn't seem interested in bringing him back midway through the 2018 season when the Texas Rangers shipped him to the Cubs. He added, however, that signing the 2008 World Series MVP to a one-year contract would still leave the Phillies with enough "financial flexibility" to sign a bigger-name free-agent pitcher such as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.
Hamels, who suited up for the Phillies from 2006 through the first half of the 2015 season, finished the 2019 campaign for the Cubs with a 7-7 record, a 3.81 ERA, and 143 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings, per Baseball Reference. He missed more than one month with a strained left oblique, which, as MLB.com noted, slowed him down after he played well in his first 10 starts prior to his injury.