The Braves’ busy offseason continues.
On Wednesday, Atlanta signed veteran lefty starter Cole Hamels to a one-year, $18 million pact, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports.
When official, the signing will mark the third big move made by the Braves this offseason, after inking Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million deal and Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year, $16 million contract. They’ve also brought back Nick Markakis, Chris Martin and Darren O’Day.
Hamels is coming off a good season with the Cubs, pitching to a 2.5 fWAR over 141 2/3 innings, with a 3.81 ERA etched on the baseball card, which are pretty good numbers for this stage in his career.
The signing means that the Braves aren’t particularly resting on their laurels of two straight NL East wins. The way Atlanta got punked out in the NLDS vs. the Cardinals was pretty embarrassing, and they recognize that.
Signing Hamels also means the Braves didn’t make the same mistake as earlier this year, when they waited until after the 2019 MLB Draft in June to sign Dallas Keuchel for the remainder of the season — Hamels doesn’t have pick compensation attached, given the Cubs didn’t extend the qualifying offer to him — but for a team that hs finished on top of the NL East two seasons in a row, this is something of an encouraging sign.
The Braves are smart to stay busy and on top of it this offseason. While two of their three signings weren’t splashy — Hamels and catcher Travis d’Arnaud — they aren’t waiting until the trade deadline to make reinforcements to the bullpen and are shoring up holes early on in the process. They aren’t going to wait until the MLB Draft to sign a starter they probably should have signed six months earlier.
Opening up their wallets a bit more has been an admirable shift in philosophy for the Braves, but 2020 and beyond should no longer be about NL East titles and should be about World Series rings. Atlanta’s front office shouldn’t pat itself on the back, shake hands with one another and send out “job well done” Christmas cards after a few reinforcements early on.
Madison Bumgarner should still be on the board. A reunion with Josh Donaldson would make a lot of sense, as well. The bullpen reinforcements shouldn’t be over. Signing Hamels is a good move to supplement an an otherwise good roster, but the winter’s just starting — and so should their work.
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