A few days ago, the Giants locked up Matt Cain long term by inking him to a contract that could be worth up to $126 million over six years. This is a lot of money to give a guy who’s going to be your number two starter, but if you take a look at the numbers and what very good, young pitching is going for these days, it was the right move. Cain was supposed to hit the free agent market this winter and now that he’s gone, Cole Hamels is the biggest free agent pitcher left out there. So how does he benefit from this?
Well, as you could imagine pretty well. Hamels, 28, has a combination of a good track record and good results that should yield him big money. He made thirty-plus starts each of the last four seasons while logging at least 190 innings in each of them. He also has an upward trending ground ball rate along with a FIP that is consistently in the three’s. Even when he pitched to a 4.32 ERA in 2009, his FIP was still a solid 3.72, struck out almost eight per nine innings and walked only two per nine.
For comparison sake, over his career Hamels has struck out more than one batter more per nine innings, walked less than one less per nine, missed about 4% more bats, and has a better ground ball-to-fly ball ratio than Cain. The two do have similar FIP’s and ERA’s, but Hamels’ peripherals suggest his performance is a little more sustainable, not to say that Cain’s is not.
The other thing that Hamels has going for him is that he will actually be hitting the open market, Cain only had one team bidding for his services, but Cole will have multiple teams fighting over him which could push the contract he receives through the roof.
It doesn’t look like the Phillies will have the monetary resources to make a go at him, but there will certainly be other teams willing to break open the bank account for him, namely the Dodgers and their new ownership who is willing to spend. It looks as though he is poised to get a fat nine-figure deal worth six or seven year. Of course a lot can happen between then and now so let’s see what type of year Hamels has and how the market develops going forward.