Alex Anthopoulos has gotten a lot of mileage out of handing out one-year deals to veteran players over the past couple of seasons. Guys like Josh Donaldson and Marcell Ozuna bet on themselves and were successful in reestablishing their value with big seasons in an Atlanta uniform. However, there is no guarantee for success on a one-year deal and the signing of Cole Hamels last offseason simply did not work out.
What went right in 2020?
Nothing? Hamels threw a total of 3 1/3 innings in a Braves uniform. While it is unmeasurable, there was a lot of talk in Spring Training about Hamels being a veteran presence for Atlanta’s young starters and in particular Max Fried. It is tough to say what kind of impact he actually had.
What went wrong?
Anthopoulos inked Hamels to a one-year, $18 million deal on December 4. He showed up to spring training in February with a sore shoulder that was the result of his offseason training regimen. The injury wasn’t thought to be serious but the team did acknowledge the day that Hamels arrived to spring that he would not be ready for the start of the season. Once spring training was shut down, the hope was that the extra time would allow Hamels to be ready when the season resumed. That didn’t work out either as Hamels was again slowed and behind the rest of his teammates. He would begin the season on the 45-day injured list and it wasn’t certain that he would throw a pitch. Hamels finally made his debut on September 16 allowing three runs in a 5-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings but came out of that game in a good place physically. However, Hamels’ season would be over five days later when he was placed back on the injured list due to shoulder discomfort effectively ending his season.
What to expect in 2021?
Hamels will turn 37 in December and has tossed 2,698 innings in his 15-year career. He may well benefit from a full offseason and a normal spring training but the question remains whether or not his body can simply hold up enough to allow him to build the strength and stamina to pitch again in the majors. If he does get another opportunity, it will be for far less than his 2020 price tag and would likely need to prove his health.