Hamels, Phillies agree to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

Lefthander Cole Hamels went 14-9 with a career-low 2.79 ERA last season. Also agreeing to a one-year deal was utility man Wilson Valdez.
Lefthander Cole Hamels went 14-9 with a career-low 2.79 ERA last season. Also agreeing to a one-year deal was utility man Wilson Valdez. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 18, 2012

A one-year deal between Cole Hamels and the Phillies got done Tuesday.

A long-term deal will not be completed with nearly as much ease, but both sides said they would attempt to do just that during spring training.

In other salary arbitration news, veteran infielder and emergency reliever Wilson Valdez became an almost-millionaire, while Hunter Pence and the Phillies could not reach an agreement on a one-year deal before Tuesday's 1 p.m. deadline for exchanging salary figures.

Hamels, 28, avoided a salary arbitration hearing by agreeing to a $15 million, one-year deal for 2012. The contract represents a $5.5 million raise for Hamels, who is coming off perhaps the best season of his career. Hamels went 14-9 with a career-low 2.79 ERA and finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Valdez, 33 and in his first year of being eligible for salary arbitration, agreed to a one-year, $930,000 contract, a raise of $370,000.

"We didn't put any pitching provisions in his deal, even though he does have great career numbers," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

That, of course, was in reference to Valdez's extra-inning victory as a pitcher last season against Cincinnati.

Pence, who will turn 29 in April, and the Phillies were required to exchange salary arbitration figures Tuesday because they could not reach an agreement. Pence made $6.9 million last season and he said during an appearance on WIP-FM (94.1) Tuesday night that his agent, Rick Thurman, was working on a one-year deal with the Phillies rather than a long-term contract extension.

"I have two years of arbitration left, so I understand that," Pence said.

 Pence's camp submitted a salary request of $11.8 million, and the Phillies countered at $9 million. Pence made $6.9 million last season.  A date for an arbitration hearing will be scheduled for next month and if the case goes to arbitration, a three-member panel must decide on one of the two numbers.

The sides can continue to negotiate right up to the hearing. Amaro said that was the team's plan.

At some point during spring training, the Phillies and Hamels' agent, John Boggs, plan to talk about a long-term deal for the lefthander, who can be a free agent after the 2012 season.

"Ruben wanted to proceed in this fashion, and then discuss a multiyear deal later," Boggs said. "I anticipate discussing a long-term deal for Cole as we get into spring training."

Amaro said talks with Hamels "probably" will take place in spring training and confirmed that he wanted to first negotiate a one-year deal for the lefthander.

"We thought it was the right thing to do for us," Amaro said. "It allowed us to establish the one-year value for Cole, and I think we did that in an amicable and equitable way. Hopefully we can figure something out long-term at the appropriate time."

There is no guarantee, of course, that the two sides will be able to complete such a deal. It's fair to assume, however, that any long-term deal for Hamels will at the very least be worth $20 million per year and cover at least five years. Roy Halladay is making $20 million a year on a deal that will likely cover four years and Cliff Lee's deal averages $24 million over five years.

"I'm always optimistic, but when you get into the real specifics and minutiae of a deal, there are usually roadblocks going forward," Boggs said. "I think Cole wants to be treated fairly and compensated for where he is at in his career. I've always respected Ruben and hopefully we can try to accomplish that long-term deal. I can't predict what will happen in the end, but hopefully the value they put on Cole is what we feel is appropriate."

Boggs said the Halladay and Lee deals are both fair comparisons for Hamels.

"I think the one thing everyone can agree on is that Cole is an elite pitcher," Boggs said. "We'll look at what elite pitchers have received in the past and hopefully he'll get what we think he is worth."

The one-year salary Hamels agreed to is the largest ever for an arbitration-eligible pitcher, for now. The San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum exchanged figures on Tuesday, with the team offering $17 million and the righthander asking for $21.5 million.


Arms of Gold

With his contract agreement on Tuesday, Cole Hamels narrowed the salary gap with fellow Phillies starters Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Here are their salaries for 2012.

Lee   $21.5 million   

Halladay   $20 million   

Hamels   $15 million   


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover

at bbrookover@phillynews.com, 215-854-2577. or @brookob on Twitter.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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