Cardinals dodged a bullet by not signing Cole Hamels
The St Louis Cardinals gave serious thought to the idea of signing Cole Hamels. It turns out they dodged a bullet by not landing him.
In July, the St. Louis Cardinals were bargain shopping for starting pitchers. They ended up acquiring left-handers J.A. Happ and Jon Lester, but considered a plethora of other veteran starters, including Cole Hamels.
All indications are that the Cardinals gave serious thought to the idea of signing Hamels. He later signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, of course, so that is a moot point. But Hamels recently suffered a shoulder injury while throwing a simulated game, only able to throw one of two innings, and is out for the year without having pitched in a major-league game.
Boy, did the Cardinals ever catch a break. Hamels, who was a longshot to come close to the form he pitched at with the Philadelphia Phillies, was more of a lottery ticket than anything. The Cardinals, meanwhile, needed veteran arms (preferably left-handed) who could eat innings and also be durable, something both Happ and Lester have been throughout their respective careers.
They’ve been rewarded for it, at least so far. Happ, 38, has a 2.16 ERA in three starts, with the Cardinals going 2-1 in his starts, and is a strong candidate to remain in the rotation even after Miles Mikolas and Kwang Hyun-Kim return from the injured list. Lester, however, will likely be relegated to a bullpen role, eating multiple innings and taking some of the load off a bullpen led by Alex Reyes that has been overworked for most of the season.
As for Hamels, this is likely the end of the road for his career. At one time, he formed one of the best rotations in recent baseball history with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Now, however, he is a shell of himself and has thrown only 3.1 innings since 2019.
It would have been a cool story if the Cardinals did sign Hamels. But adding Happ and Lester, two other crafty veteran pitchers, instead of buying a lottery ticket in Hamels, turned out to be the right decision by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.