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Offseason Notes: Hamels and Wheeler Sign, Betts Trade ‘Unlikely’

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To this point in the offseason, Major League Baseball has seen activity –– unlike a year ago.

Contracts are being signed left and right, and Wednesday afternoon saw multiple starting pitchers come off the board.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Cole Hamels, a 35-year-old left-hander, signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves following a season where he posted a 3.81 ERA and a 4.09 FIP in 141.2 innings with the Cubs.

Atlanta sends an early message that they are looking to provide a needed spark to a rotation that couldn’t make it out of the National League Division Series alive. Signing Hamels likely means the end of the Dallas Keuchel era in Atlanta, who was steady but not as impressive as Atlanta had hoped.

The other top starting pitcher that came off the board Wednesday afternoon was right-hander Zack Wheeler. The ex-Met entered free agency following a relatively down season in 2019. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP all regressed from his 2018 numbers.

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However, the Phillies needed to bolster a rotation that posted a 4.64 staff ERA in 2019, and Zack Wheeler was exactly what the doctor ordered for GM Matt Klentak.

The specifics of the deal were first reported by Jon Heyman, who said it’s a five-year deal worth $118 million.

Wheeler gets the early deal he wanted and gets to stay close to his New Jersey home, while the Phillies get a much-needed boost to their rotation.

Lastly, Jeff Passan of ESPN provided Red Sox fans with a highly-anticipated update around outfielder Mookie Betts.

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Passan reports that the trade is “unlikely,” and the Red Sox will instead look to move high-salary contracts in David Price and/or Nathan Eovaldi.

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner said that the team could look to “Plan B or Plan C” if they can’t reach an agreement on an extension with the star outfielder. What that means remains to be seen.

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