There will be an important baseball audition Friday. In the language of the game, it’s a “showcase,” an opportunity for a player to show his stuff to major league teams curious to find out whether he has what it takes to help them down this season’s stretch. Teams like the KC Royals might attend just to see if he’s worth a shot.
For Cole Hamels, the event may be his final chance to convince a team—perhaps any team—he can still pitch.
Hamels, a lefthanded starter who once dominated hitters for the Phillies and Rangers, tried but failed to for the Cubs, and remains an unsigned free agent after pitching only once last season, will display his wares to interested clubs Friday in Texas. Teams reportedly attending his show include the Phils, Yankees, and Mets.
The Royals should stay home. They don’t need Cole Hamels.
That may not have been the case a few months ago, though. I suggested in this space before the season began that Hamels represented the kind of risk the Royals like to take. A winner of 163 big league games, including six consecutive double-digit victory seasons with Philadelphia and 33 wins in just over two seasons with Texas, he was then, and is now, a former star beset by injuries and advancing age. A perfect candidate, in other words, for one of General Manager Dayton Moore’s famous reclamation projects.
But things change, and this one did.
It’s not that Hamels can’t cut it anymore because no one knows that to be the case. Friday’s showcase will tell that tale.
It’s not that Kansas City can’t afford Hamels—his recent injury history (a 2019 oblique issue, then triceps tendinitis and shoulder fatigue last season), age (37, 38 in December), and the fact no one signed him for 2021—all suggest he won’t command, and shouldn’t ask for, a deal that might cut too deeply into the Royals’ coffers.
And it’s not that the KC Royals don’t need pitching help. They do. Desperately.
They just don’t need Cole Hamels.
Why shouldn’t the KC Royals pursue Cole Hamels for the rest of the season?
Hamels is the kind of pitcher only contending teams should have interest in, and then only if he wows them Friday. He’s a crafty veteran, a lefthander, a proven winner who could lead and mentor during a race for the playoffs.
But for non-contenders, those clearly without realistic postseason aspirations, Hamels isn’t a fit. Yes, he could probably provide a few wins, but a few extra victories here and there aren’t essential for teams already working on next year.
Like the last-place Royals, who’ve almost certainly reached the point where avoiding 100 losses is the best they can hope for. At 36-53, 18 games out of first and 14.5 games behind in the Wild Card competition, Kansas City needs to focus on the players they have.
Kings of Kauffman’s Aidan Karpin recently wrote that the KC Royals should be working young pitching prospects like Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch in the majors, a good suggestion then and an even better one now. So far removed from contention, the club is better off refining top prospects in the majors than blocking them with new veterans like Hamel.
That’s why Kansas City shouldn’t dispatch anyone to watch Hamels Friday.
Cole Hamels might be able to help some teams this season. Kansas City isn’t one of them.