Chicago Cubs had no choice but to pick up Cole Hamels’ option

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Lessons to be learned from this winter’s signings

Hamels is already 34 years old. So the Cubs would have been trying to get him to agree to a short two or three-year deal. Perhaps the Cubs are only going to want one year of Hamels at $20 million rather than the millions more and additional guaranteed years it would have cost to sign him as a free agent.

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But Patrick Corbin‘s free agent contract this offseason shows us that if Hamels became a free agent he might have been able to command a much higher salary per year and longer commitment than the Cubs would have been comfortable with.

Corbin’s contract is for six guaranteed years. In some ways, Corbin’s contract is better than the contract that Jake Arrieta signed just last offseason. Arrieta’s complicated contract only has three guaranteed years and then two team options plus a player opt-out. That is a clue that this year’s free agent pitching market is tougher than last year’s.

True, Nathan Eovaldi just signed a more team-friendly deal with the Red Sox. However, Eovaldi admitted he was prioritizing the Red Sox. If the Cubs would have allowed Hamels to become a free agent, they would have been counting on a similar post-trade-hometown-discount. Perhaps Hamels would have felt some gratitude for getting his $6 million buyout but you can’t count on that.