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Should the Twins Be In on Cole Hamels?

Cole Hamels is one of the best starting pitchers on the open market and teams are definitely looking into him. It is rumored that 13 teams are interested, but the teams were not revealed. It is probably a safe bet to say the Twins will be checking in on him, but how much of an upgrade would he be?
Image courtesy of © Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
With only Jose Berrios locked into the 2020 rotation, the Twins will likely be looking to add at least two starters, and Cole Hamels certainly makes sense on a similar contract to what Nelson Cruz signed last season. If the Twins sign him to a $17 million contract with a $13-$15 million option for 2021, it would be a solid move.

The 35-year old veteran starter is coming off another solid season where he threw 141 innings with a 3.81 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 2.55 K/BB, 47.3 GB%, and 2.5 WAR. He has indicated he would be open to signing a one year deal as long as the team he signs with is a championship-caliber team. The Twins would certainly check that box, and signing Hamels would push them closer to the end goal.

Since his debut in 2006, Cole Hamels has been one of the most consistently good pitchers in the game. Over his 14 seasons, his highest ERA was just 4.20 and he finished in the threes or lower for ERA in 11 of his 14 seasons. He has also finished with a WAR of 2.5 or higher in 12 of his seasons.

His strikeout rate started to take a dip in 2017, but he had it back to a 9.08 K/9 this season. His velocity has dipped on the fastball, so he has had to adjust and he has done so by learning how to get batters out without velocity and with a great breaking ball and changeup. Maybe Wes Johnson can wave his magic wand and get a couple miles per hour back on that arm.

Hamels certainly isn’t the top end starting pitcher many want like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but he is on the end of the second tier group of Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, and Jake Odorizzi. If the Twins are looking for just a one- or two-year deal with a consistent pitcher, he is a good option for the number three or four spot in the rotation.

What do you think of Cole Hamels? Is he someone you hope to see the Twins pick up via free agency? Leave a comment and get the discussion started below.


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37 Comments

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yeahyabetcha
Nov 13 2019 09:18 PM
Maybe an option, but hopefully the Twins can do better than Hamels
    • Oldgoat_MN and Sconnie like this

As a 4th or 5th option, do not have a problem, if he is 2 or 3 Twins have not done a good job this winter.

    • Oldgoat_MN, notoriousgod71, mikelink45 and 3 others like this
Twins need to be in on everyone.
    • USAFChief, Blake, adjacent and 10 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 13 2019 09:54 PM

Not a bad option. Not my first choice. 

    • LA VIkes Fan and dgwills like this
As a 4th SP option, or maybe as a budget 5th option on a 1yr if the market continues as we've seen the last couple of years. He misses the first month of the season plus, but would you rather have Pineda or Hamels as your #4 SP for 2020 considering the season as a whole?
    • beckmt likes this

He is no longer a $17M a year pitcher. He most likely ends up with a contender or closer to wherever is home for himself for like 2/25M.

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theBOMisthebomb
Nov 13 2019 11:44 PM

Twins need to be in on everyone.

That's the same thought that's been rattling around in my brain since the end of the World Series. The Twins have the budget and the need and the motive to acquire as much (starting) pitching as possible. There's nothing wrong with an abundance of options.
    • adjacent, bighat and MN_ExPat like this
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Post-Concussive Blues
Nov 14 2019 06:44 AM
If we sign Hamels and Bumgarner, we will have an awesome rotation for Fantasy Baseball in 2012!

But seriously, Hamels would be a great addition to our staff, probably similar to Odorizzi last year.
    • LA VIkes Fan and MN_ExPat like this

His 1.4 Whip worries me.Loss of velocity is an issue, if control is an issue too that is not good.

    • Oldgoat_MN and D.C Twins like this
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John Bonnes
Nov 14 2019 07:03 AM

1) If Odo returns and takes the #3 spot, I'd be thrilled with Hamels for the 4 spot, and the Twins payroll should allow as much. If Odo does not return, then I would be borderline frantic to try and end up with Hamels to replace Odo in that #3 spot. 

 

2) FWIW, this management team seems to love veterans that have a good locker room rep, and Hamels fills that bill. He seems like exactly the kind of guy this group would target. 

    • Blake, LA VIkes Fan, DocBauer and 5 others like this

Hamels averaged just over 5 innings per start last season. If the Twins bring back Odorizzi, my interest in Hamels would be minimal. Having 2 (relatively) expensive SP who you can't count on to get through 6 innings consistently is not how you build a World Series capable rotation.

 

As with all theoretical signings, it all comes down to dollars. If Hamels is willing to sign for a reasonable price, I wouldn't have any problem with it regardless of Odorizzi's status. 

    • KGB likes this

Per the picture above, I'm a little concerned with the nipple growing out of his elbow.

    • Kevin, adorduan, PDX Twin and 2 others like this
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Harrison Greeley III
Nov 14 2019 08:51 AM

I believe a key stat that front offices are looking at right now that I'm not seeing baseball writers adequately discuss is HR/9 or some advanced, proprietary version of that data. The ball is juiced and you're better off assuming it will continue to be juiced. Lineups are more stacked with hitters capable of 20 HR than ever before. If you can give up fewer home runs than you're hitting, you're in good shape. Manufacturing runs is out of style right now.

From that standpoint, Hamels willing to take a 1 year deal with a contender makes him extremely appealing. Hamels has been pitching in HR-friendly parks his entire career (PHI, TEX, CHC) has done a great job not giving up HRs for the most part. 

He had a really good first half in 2019 (allowed 0.81 HR/9). Then he wasn't healthy in the second half (allowed 1.71 HR/9). So the question is a similar one teams are going to have for Gibson as to whether his health will improve. 

I'm definitely for pursuing him on that 1 year deal.  

    • kenbuddha, gagu, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 14 2019 08:56 AM

 

He is no longer a $17M a year pitcher. He most likely ends up with a contender or closer to wherever is home for himself for like 2/25M.

 

To be fair, I don't think he'd cost that much, and will most certainly be a 1 year deal unless the market changes. He was decent, but do remember those numbers are nothing special for the NL and will certainly drop in the AL. It would be interesting to see if Wes Johnson can work some mojo with him to get the velo back up, but I wouldn't hold my breath in him being reinvented as his old self. 

 

Bottom line, I really hope this isn't the target. They have money to spend, so spend it on more of a sure thing. 

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LA VIkes Fan
Nov 14 2019 10:20 AM

Hamels makes sense IF we get a Wheeler type in free agency, and re-sign at least Odorizzi. even better if we re-sign Pineda. A starting group of Berrios, Wheeler, Odorizzi, Pineda and Hamels would be a HUGE upgrade. 

 

Who's the #1? Probably Berrios. It's almost impossible to get a #1 SP in free agency without breaking the bank and limiting your other options. You really do have to develop your own. Berrios is only 25 and has been a solid to strong #2 each of the last 3 years.He's the guy with Wheeler more a #2 or #1B.  

    • adorduan and DocBauer like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 14 2019 10:30 AM

 

Hamels averaged just over 5 innings per start last season. If the Twins bring back Odorizzi, my interest in Hamels would be minimal. Having 2 (relatively) expensive SP who you can't count on to get through 6 innings consistently is not how you build a World Series capable rotation.

 

As with all theoretical signings, it all comes down to dollars. If Hamels is willing to sign for a reasonable price, I wouldn't have any problem with it regardless of Odorizzi's status. 

 

I think Hamels' lower innings per outing was likely a product of being in the NL and/or game planning by the Cubs. At least last year, he was an uncommon pitcher and actually pitched BETTER to batters the third time he faced them holding them to a .706 OPS as opposed to the .896 OPS the 2nd time through the order.

 

My interest in Hamels is minimal, but it's not because I think he'd tax the bullpen any more than most other pitchers. Though, going forward it's very possible the Twins intentionally restrict a starters innings.

 

 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

You have Berrios. Hopefully there is an upside to Berrios and he will continue to improve.

 

Who do you replace Odorizzi with? Someone who can go five innings? Someone not tied into a 3-4 year contract? Imagine there are quite a few possibilities.

 

Who do you repalce Gibson with. ANyone. Here I would consider adding a bigger name free agent, be it Wheeler or Bumgarner. 

 

Who replaces Pineda? My concern with Pineda is - did he get better because of what he was taking? If you can get Gibson and Pineda on rasonable one year ofers, I would sign both and hope Gibson shows up strong in spring training. Gibson still ahs health concerns. Will they come abck? Pineda will miss the first month-and-a-half.

 

Who replaces Perez? Agan, anyone. Heck, I would consider Odorizzi a fine upgrade if he takes the one year deal. But I am afraid of Odorizzi over the longterm.

 

The Twins also need a spot or a way to look at future arms in their organization. Do they have enough worthwhile arms to devote one roster spot to giving them experience. Thorpe, Dobnak, Smeltzer are this year's cropy. Graterol is also a strong consieation. The Twins have 4-5 othre names that could be contributing at the backend of the rotation starting in 2021 and maybe being a futrue major league star.

 

But the question always is...if you BUY rotation arms, then what do you do with the arms in the system. Do you basically let them walk over time (see Stewart, Slegers, Gonsalves) or do you package them when they still have some perceivd worth for offense, or other prospects that you can, in turn, apckage still at another date.

 

Simply by throwing money at the fan the Twins should be able to upgrade over Odorizzi, Gibson, Pineda and Perez. Within their own system they should be able to upgrade over Perez and Gibson 2019. I am not comfortable with Odorizzi longterm. I am not sure how bad the Twins need to be the second-round rehab for Pineda.

 

They have the money to spend. They need a swecond catcher (still cheap). They also need a closer, which should be job one. Spend big on this arm, and the otehr aprts of the bullpen will thrive. You should still have $30-40-50 million to spend on rotation arms.

 

1) If Odo returns and takes the #3 spot, I'd be thrilled with Hamels for the 4 spot, and the Twins payroll should allow as much. If Odo does not return, then I would be borderline frantic to try and end up with Hamels to replace Odo in that #3 spot. 
 
2) FWIW, this management team seems to love veterans that have a good locker room rep, and Hamels fills that bill. He seems like exactly the kind of guy this group would target.


I'm confused as to why bringing Odorizzi back is the determining factor of interest in Hamels as the #4.
If Hamels is a good #4, he'll be a good #4 regardless of who is the #3.
    • Kelly Vance, D.C Twins and MN_ExPat like this

I like this option, as long as they also acquire two starters on multi year deals. They can't afford to be in this position again next year, only having 1 year deals on 80% of their rotation....

    • Sconnie, dbminn, D.C Twins and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 14 2019 01:59 PM

 

I'm confused as to why bringing Odorizzi back is the determining factor of interest in Hamels as the #4. If Hamels is a good #4, he'll be a good #4 regardless of who is the #3.

 

I'd think the assumption being made is that Hamels + Odorizzi more likely means the Twins don't get Wheeler or Bumgarner.

 

I like this option, as long as they also acquire two starters on multi year deals. They can't afford to be in this position again next year, only having 1 year deals on 80% of their rotation....

Technically they can afford to be in this position again next year since they wouldn't be hampered with the multi year deals.

 

Hopefully by this time next year we will know if any of Dubnak, Smeltzer, Graterol, etc. are going to be reliable rotation pieces. We could sign 2 one year deals (probably a multi year deal in there too) and reevaluate this issue again next year when guys like Paxton, Bauer, Robbie Ray, Stroman, and Tanaka are set to be available. Maybe grab one multi year deal now and another multi year deal then.

 

It could be a rotation of Berrios, Multi year deal, one year deal, one year deal, Prospects. Something like Berrios, Wheeler (or Odorizzi or Bumgarner), Hamels, Porcello (or Alex Wood), Graterol.

 

You have Berrios. Hopefully there is an upside to Berrios and he will continue to improve.

 

Who do you replace Odorizzi with? Someone who can go five innings? Someone not tied into a 3-4 year contract? Imagine there are quite a few possibilities.

 

Who do you repalce Gibson with. ANyone. Here I would consider adding a bigger name free agent, be it Wheeler or Bumgarner. 

 

Who replaces Pineda? My concern with Pineda is - did he get better because of what he was taking? If you can get Gibson and Pineda on rasonable one year ofers, I would sign both and hope Gibson shows up strong in spring training. Gibson still ahs health concerns. Will they come abck? Pineda will miss the first month-and-a-half.

 

Who replaces Perez? Agan, anyone. Heck, I would consider Odorizzi a fine upgrade if he takes the one year deal. But I am afraid of Odorizzi over the longterm.

 

The Twins also need a spot or a way to look at future arms in their organization. Do they have enough worthwhile arms to devote one roster spot to giving them experience. Thorpe, Dobnak, Smeltzer are this year's cropy. Graterol is also a strong consieation. The Twins have 4-5 othre names that could be contributing at the backend of the rotation starting in 2021 and maybe being a futrue major league star.

 

But the question always is...if you BUY rotation arms, then what do you do with the arms in the system. Do you basically let them walk over time (see Stewart, Slegers, Gonsalves) or do you package them when they still have some perceivd worth for offense, or other prospects that you can, in turn, apckage still at another date.

 

Simply by throwing money at the fan the Twins should be able to upgrade over Odorizzi, Gibson, Pineda and Perez. Within their own system they should be able to upgrade over Perez and Gibson 2019. I am not comfortable with Odorizzi longterm. I am not sure how bad the Twins need to be the second-round rehab for Pineda.

 

They have the money to spend. They need a swecond catcher (still cheap). They also need a closer, which should be job one. Spend big on this arm, and the otehr aprts of the bullpen will thrive. You should still have $30-40-50 million to spend on rotation arms.

He was taking a diuretic.Diuretics are not a PED.

I posted in another thread I'm interested in Hamels if he's willing to do a Nelson Cruz like contract. 1 year + option year at a lower rate than the first year. At the very worst he could be cut if prospects show they're ready for prime time.

 

Technically they can afford to be in this position again next year since they wouldn't be hampered with the multi year deals.

 

Hopefully by this time next year we will know if any of Dubnak, Smeltzer, Graterol, etc. are going to be reliable rotation pieces. We could sign 2 one year deals (probably a multi year deal in there too) and reevaluate this issue again next year when guys like Paxton, Bauer, Robbie Ray, Stroman, and Tanaka are set to be available. Maybe grab one multi year deal now and another multi year deal then.

 

It could be a rotation of Berrios, Multi year deal, one year deal, one year deal, Prospects. Something like Berrios, Wheeler (or Odorizzi or Bumgarner), Hamels, Porcello (or Alex Wood), Graterol.

 

So, next year, when there are LESS good pitchers, sign more than this year to long term deals? That seems unlikely to me.

 

A team can't, imo, sign multiple good starting pitchers year after year. If they could, the Yankees and Dodgers and Astros would be doing it.

 

Odo is now under a 1 year deal. That's now one spot not locked up for 2021, most likely.

    • Sconnie and D.C Twins like this

I'd think the assumption being made is that Hamels + Odorizzi more likely means the Twins don't get Wheeler or Bumgarner.


Hamels and now Odo on 1 year deals better not have any impact on making a legitimate run at Wheeler or Bumgarner, or I'm in for yet another excruciatingly disappointing winter.