According to ESPN's Jayson Stark (@jaysonst), the Phillies are preparing to offer left hander Cole Hamels a huge contract. Hamels, 28, is a soon-to-be-free-agent come this offseason and is going to be the hottest free agent on the market. Unless the Phillies can lock him up.
Hamels is 10-4 on the year with a 3.20 ERA in his last year in a contract. Back in the offseason, the Phillies extended Hamels to a one-year, $15MM deal in an effort to keep him long enough to work out a longer extension. That time is now.
With the trade deadline a little over two weeks away, it's going to be a crazy period for all parties involved. Since spring training, there have been no indications of any potential deal or any progress on a potential deal between Hamels and the Phillies. It's getting late and the time is now to make a move. Hamels is going to get a big deal no matter where he goes.
The market for Hamels has been shaped thanks to Matt Cain of the Giants, who received a five-year, $112.5 million extension in April with an option for a sixth. Cain is one of the best up-and-coming pitchers next to Hamels and it's a contract like that that is going to make it tough to get Hamels to sign now.
Signing Hamels to a deal of that magnitude would be no trouble if the Phillies weren't close to breaching the $178MM luxury-tax threshold. After signing Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120MM deal last year, the Phillies have one of the highest pay-rolls in the game. Although they are close to breaching it, executives believe they can still get Hamels to stay until 2013 and even longer.
According to Stark:
However, executives of two clubs that spoke to Phillies' officials say the Phillies have been expressing a surprising level of optimism they can get the 28-year-old left-hander signed this month.
"They're trying to sign him," said one of those executives. "And they think it's going to happen. At least that's what I was told."
What they have no way of knowing, for now, is whether Hamels shares their optimism.
It's really up to Hamels at this point. The pitcher has stated before that a losing season in Philly would not affect his decision. If the Phillies are going to offer him a huge contract he's either going to take it or he's going to let it go and see his worth this winter.
With talks of trades coming up it's going to be crazy to see what the Phillies do. According to Stark, the Rangers are heavily favored to be the team that the Phillies could do business with involving Hamels. Other clubs have contacted the Phillies regarding Hamels, but are biding their time until the Phillies decide for sure what they're doing.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been rumored to be very interested in Hamels' services as well as Detroit, Boston and St. Louis. It's almost certain that they will not begin to discuss serious trades involving Hamels until they know for sure that he is on the same level as they are - cash wise.
Hold on to your seats, people.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.