Hamels irked over money matters
Ace lefty 'surprised' by team's decision to renew contract
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Phillies had one disappointed pitcher Sunday afternoon, and it had nothing to do with getting knocked around at Legends Field.Cole Hamels was upset to have his contract renewed after being unable to agree to terms before Sunday's team-imposed deadline. The announcement comes on the first day teams can renew unsigned players. Hamels had his contract renewed at $500,000, a 25-percent increase from the $400,000 he earned in 2007. The pitcher requested $750,000. "I'm not angry," Hamels said, searching for a word. "I just feel a little ... I can't think of a good word. I'm a little surprised. It's about respect, and when people don't show that to you, you're caught off guard. I thought it was a low blow." Teams control a player's contractual rights for their first six years of Major League service, but must still negotiate yearly deals. When players with less than three years of service can't agree, the team can "renew" a contract at any salary, as long as the player earns at least the minimum and isn't reduced by more than 20 percent. The Phillies' final offer was unclear, though it was higher than the renewal amount. By accepting the lower one-year number, Hamels leaves some money on the table, as well as incentives that could've pushed the value higher should Hamels earn another All-Star berth or a Cy Young Award. By opting for the renewal figure, Hamels sends a message that there's a disagreement in terms of value. Ryan Howard sent the same message last March when he "accepted" a $900,000 renewal vs. a team offer of more than $1 million. The team didn't discuss a multiyear deal with Hamels. Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who generally handles contract negotiations, didn't return a call seeking comment, nor did John Boggs, Hamels' agent. For what it's worth, here's what Amaro said last year regarding Howard, a statement that likely applies to Hamels. "This is just part of the process," Amaro said on March 2, 2007. "To me, it's no harm, no foul. Sometimes, people agree to disagree, and that's what happened. I think we're being appropriate and fair."
Hamels commented plenty."I felt it wasn't necessarily equal compensation for what I do and for what I can do," said Hamels, who went 15-5 last season and made the All-Star team. "You want to feel like you're getting equally compensated for what you do on the field compared to other people that are in the same league." Two comparable players are Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir and New York's Chien-Ming Wang, and Hamels is better paid than both were at similar points in their careers. Kazmir earned $424,000 and Wang earned $489,500 last season. Wang, in particular, was coming off a season in which he went 19-6 with a 3.63 ERA. Kazmir and Wang were arbitration-eligible this season. Kazmir settled for $3.785 million, while Wang lost his case and will earn $4 million. Hamels' salary is less than the $690,000 given to Kerry Wood after his monster season of 1998. Hamels will see a salary increase after the 2008 season, when he's likely to be arbitration-eligible for the first time -- assuming he achieves the same "Super Two" status given to Howard this offseason. Hamels can't become a free agent until after the 2012 season. If there's any animosity, will it affect Hamels' future negotiations? "That's why we have agents," Hamels said. "[The Phillies] are business savvy. When you can have a certain guy for a certain amount, why go up? They do want to keep you happy, and that will come up down the line. I didn't have a million dollars in my mind. I put a number out there thinking that would be really good, and they came nowhere near it." Either way, Hamels said it won't affect his 2008 on-field performance -- "I might be more motivated to show them I'm worth what I was asking" -- or his desire to remain in Philadelphia for his career. "I love playing here, and I don't want to face Chase [Utley] and Ryan," Hamels said. "I'd rather be teammates with them for a long time."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.