With his career at a crossroads after his likely departure from the Chicago Cubs, Cole Hamels may find his best fit by going home.
Seeking a one-year deal with a contender, it would be very appropriate for Hamels to reunite with his longtime team, the Philadelphia Phillies, who are at a much different place than when he left.
After the Cubs decided not to make him a qualifying offer, Hamels says he is looking for a deal with a contending team, preferably season by season, so that he can continue to wind down his career on his terms. The Phillies may have just finished a disappointing 81-81, but they have Bryce Harper, a pitching staff with potential, good young talent, and a brand-new World Series-winning manager in Joe Girardi.
The 35-year-old Hamels, hitting free agency for the first time in his life, made no secret of his desire to return to Philly, telling MLB.com, "I know Philly is finally trying to make that push. They’re building their roster. If I fit on their roster and their plans, I’d love the opportunity to come back. It’s probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans."
Hamels still lives in the Philadelphia area after playing there for eight and a half years and leading the team to the 2008 World Series Championship, winning NLCS and World Series MVP.
The Phillies' starting rotation struggled last season, with only Aaron Nola finishing with an ERA below 4.00, further underscoring their need for stability. With Jake Arrieta now hobbled and entering a continued career downturn, Hamels could ironically replace their former ace once again, much like he did in Chicago.
Hamels has made his feelings known. And per the man himself, the ball is now in the Phillies' court.