The Braves have signed veteran starter Cole Hamels to a one-year, $18 million contract, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported Wednesday:
Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Atlanta Braves are in agreement on a one-year, $18 million deal, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
This continues a busy offseason for the Braves, who have renegotiated deals with catcher Tyler Flowers and outfielder Nick Markakis, brought back relievers Chris Martin and Darren O’Day, and added reliever Will Smith, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, and now Hamels. Including the new Flowers and Markakis contracts — which weren’t full-fledged free-agent deals — the Braves have now doled out $98.75 million for seven players this offseason, as Passan pointed out on Twitter.
Hamels, who turns 36 later this month, joins a Braves club that is a division rival of the team with which he made his name — the Phillies, for whom he made three All-Star teams and won NLCS and World Series MVP awards in 2008. He’s since spent three years with the Rangers, with whom he made another All-Star team in 2016, and roughly a season-and-a-half with the Cubs. Though the lefty was a bit inconsistent at times during his tenure in Texas, he was fantastic with the Cubs, posting a 3.30 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP over 39 starts. Though an oblique strain limited him to 27 starts in 2019, he was very good amidst a juiced-ball season, posting a 3.81 ERA with 9.1 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine — good for a 3.0 bWAR.
With Julio Teheran being non-tendered and Dallas Keuchel hitting the free-agent market, the Braves theoretically had two rotation vacancies to fill this offseason, so Hamels takes care of one of them. They still could go out and sign another free agent or make a trade, though it’s also perhaps possible that Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint could re-emerge as rotation candidates after spending most of 2019 in the bullpen, that Bryse Wilson or Kyle Wright could take the next step after struggling as starters this past season, or that prospects like Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, Huascar Ynoa, Patrick Weigel, and Tucker Davidson could force themselves into the conversation. To put it lightly, the Braves have plenty of rotation depth heading into 2020.