The veteran left-hander is entering his age-37 season coming off an injury-plagued 2020 that saw him make just one start.
The last we saw of Cole Hamels wasn’t all that encouraging. The veteran lefty’s 2020 season was limited to one appearance, pitching 3 1⁄3 innings and allowing 3 runs in a 5-1 loss to the hapless Baltimore Orioles. Hamels, who signed a 1-year/$18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, missed most of 2020 with a shoulder injury he suffered in spring training.
His advanced age by baseball terms (he’ll turn 38 in December) as well as the recent shoulder injury make it no surprise that the 2008 World Series MVP is still without a team with the commencement of spring training.
By way of this, Hamels price tag for 2021 shouldn’t come at much of a cost. While the Phillies, now run under serial owner-wallet-reacher Dave Dombrowski, have long been linked to an eventual reunion with Hamels, the team already addressed the lack of left-handed starting pitching with the addition of Matt Moore on a 1-year deal earlier this month, utterly closing the door on a possible return to the city of brotherly love.
Per MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola, Miami could open the season with a starting staff consisting of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, Elieser Hernandez, Sixto Sánchez, and Nick Niedert, thus, giving them zero left-handers in the opening day rotation. However, “we’re always on the lookout for extra pitching,” general manager Kim Ng said earlier this week.
Now, while the team does have left-hander Braxton Garrett under team control until 2026, the 23-year old has just two starts and less than a full game’s worth of innings (7 2⁄3) under his belt at the big league level. For Garrett, who hasn’t pitched above AA, the hopes of a full season could mean more seasoning in the minors before playing a role on the team later in the year.
Miami does also enter 2021 with fellow lefty Daniel Castano who is scheduled to take the mound for their first Grapefruit League game this Sunday. Castano pitched to an impressive 3.03 earned run average last season, though his peripherals suggest that was largely the product of good fortune.
With all of this in mind, does this make Hamels a viable option for the Marlins, but on a short-term basis?
As previously noted, Hamels turns 38 later this year, so anything beyond one year presents great risk, but his presence in the short-term could prove wonders for the younger arms the way it did when Hamels pitched with another elder statesman, Jamie Moyer. The pair were teammates from 2006-10, winning a World Series in 2008, and reaching another in 2009.
The aforementioned 2008 World Series MVP, Hamels—who also collected NLCS MVP honors that same year—could prove a valuable weapon for Miami in October should they return in 2021, as the 4-time All-Star owns a 3.41 ERA in 100 1⁄3 playoff innings.