According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, contract negotiation talks between the Phillies and lefthander Cole Hamels are beginning to pick up quickly.
According to Stark's sources, the club and Hamels and his agent John Boggs have begun to seriously negotiate as the club pushes to get Hamels signed before the July 31 trade deadline. As well as trying to get the deal done, the Phillies have put any potential trade talks with other clubs on hold.
Meanwhile, clubs that have been speaking with the Phillies say the team has essentially put trade talks on hold, and have been much more focused on signing the 28-year-old left-hander than on dealing him before the deadline.
Another of Stark's sources claim that the Phillies are willing to give Hamels a six-year deal, a first for any starting pitcher in team history.
Like stated before, Hamels' market has been shaped by San Francisco Giants righty Matt Cain, who received a five-year, $112.5MM deal that actually guarauntees him a sixth year with the option. That optioned sixth year will eventually equal out to $127.5 MM. The Phillies reportedly were setting to offer up Hamels a five-year deal worth $120MM, the same deal that Cliff Lee signed in 2010.
The Phillies are approaching the $178MM luxury-tax threshold with their payroll, but still believe they can sign Hamels to 2013 and beyond. In order to do that, they would need to trade up a player to free up some money.
Other teams say they've been significantly more interested in discussing potential deals for players such as Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and even Jimmy Rollins than they have for Hamels.
The Phillies have some time to make a deal happen. The trade deadline is 12 days away and that is more than enough time for the Phillies to make some moves and try to sign Hamels. A team official of one team put it, the Phillies are "not in a hurry to do anything right now -- except sign Cole Hamels."
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