Last week Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. felt like he had all the time in the world to sign LHP Cole Hamels to a long term contract and keep the young ace in this city for years to come. The lack of movement along the negotiation front shows that the Phillies felt that they could take their time and hammer out a deal without Hamels ever hitting the free agent market. With the news that the Los Angeles Dodgers had been sold to a group that includes legendary Laker Magic Johnson for a staggering and mind-bending sum in the neighborhood of $2 billion ($2,000,000,000-that’s a whole lot of zeros), it could mean that the Phillies may—and should—start to feel the pressure to get deal done as soon as possible.
The price that was paid for The Dodgers should indicate where that franchise is heading: they’re looking to and are going to spend money next year to improve the roster in any way that they can. You don’t spend that amount of cash and don’t go after big names on the market. The Dodgers payroll this year is in the area of $90 million and it is inconceivable that they would keep it the same for the 2013 season. The new owners set the record for the price of a major sports team and besting the price paid for the Miami Dolphins by $900 million and need to fill seats to justify how much they spent; the best way to do that is to make waves, sign big names, make moves and generate talk about your team both locally and nationally. I fully expect them to be almost throwing cash at any player they think they can get and one of the prime targets is almost guaranteed to be Hamels. The Dodgers already have a star in the making with Clayton Kershaw and the idea of adding Hamels to the rotation has to make the new owners willing to break out the check book and write any number it will take to get him. While Phillies fans are spoiled with a rotation that includes Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in addition to Hamels, a Dodger rotation featuring Kershaw and Hamels has a chance to be just as effective.
It seemed as if the Phillies thought there would be no competition for Hamels and that they could sign him as it suited them, but with new players in the race they may be forced to give him the 5 year, $23 million per year deal that he’s looking for if they want to keep him around. Being the first Phillies pitcher to win at least 10 games in five consecutive years since HOF Steve Carlton, a 2008 World Series MVP award plus the fact that he’s left handed means that Hamels is in line for a BIG payday, and if the Phillies aren’t willing to pay I’m pretty sure Magic Johnson and Co. will be.