Cole Hamels’ wife and son sat in the back. They were there to support the newest member of the millionaire aces club, which already includes Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, after Hamels and the Phillies agreed on a six-year, $144 million contract extension.
As soon as Hamels exited the stage, his 3-year-old son Caleb, wearing his dad’s No. 35 jersey, went racing toward him and shouted, “Hi Daddy!” Hamels scooped him up, slung him over his million-dollar arm and replied with a smile, “Did you have fun?”
By signing the deal — the largest one the Phillies have doled out to a pitcher and second-largest in MLB — Hamels ensured he’ll be in red pinstripes through the 2018 season. There is a club option for 2019 with a no-trade clause.
The homegrown ace could have waited and filed for free agency at the end of the season. Instead, Hamels chose to remain with the ballclub that drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft. He gave countless reasons why he potentially passed on more money, most notably the desire to play at Citizens Bank Park.
“You want to go out and play for a reason and the reason is to win World Series, to play in front of sellout crowds, to play in front of a Phillie nation of fans everywhere that are showing up on the road, that are cheering you on,” he said. “Those are the reasons that we play this game and want to play it for as long as we possibly can, until they take the ball out of our hand and tell us we can’t.”
The negotiations began before spring training. Neither side set a deadline because Hamels wanted to keep talks open. It took seven months, but they finally hashed it out.
“The motto is the Fightin’ Phils, so you never count them out until the very end,” Hamels said. “I wanted to give the Phillies every opportunity. It’s really hard to leave a place where you had so many great memories. I really do feel this is the place that I do call home and I want to call home for a really long time.”