There is said to be progress in talks between Cole Hamels and the Phillies, according to people familiar with the negotiations, giving the home team hope they might prevent their young star lefthander from filing for free agency after the year.
The Phillies have come up from their original offer that was believed to be for about $127.5 million over six years, as CBSSports.com first reported. But there is still at least "work to be done,'' said someone familiar with the talks. But the Phillies, who remain determined to keep Hamels in the fold, seem somewhat more optimistic now than they did when the process began.
The Phillies made Hamels the focal point of their efforts but need to resolve the matter before the July 31 trade deadline. If they can't sign Hamels -- and that's looking less likely now -- they will want to consider trade options. The Rangers, Angels and others would have interest in the 28-year-old star.
Very few stars sign with only months to go before free agency. However, the Phillies are a big-market team with the resources to keep its favorite sons, and they have a strong recent history of doing just that. The focal point of their team has been the three ace pitchers, including also 30-somethings Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and GM Ruben Amaro has said they want to try to do what they can to keep the trio together. At least the Rangers have scouted Lee in the event he becomes available following a Hamels signing but Texas would want a lot of the $97 million remaining through 2015 on Lee's deal offset in any trade.
The Phillies' original idea of $127.5 million for six years was based on the amount the Giants owed to star right-hander Matt Cain at the start of the year, counting Cain's pre-existing $15-million 2012 salary and his $112.5-million extension.
People who know Hamels believe he very much likes Philadlphia (he lives there year-round) but he also doesn't mind the idea of looking around and seeing what's out there. There's been speculation the new Dodgers owners would make a run at Hamels, a San Diego native.
Hamels is viewed as somewhat unpredictable and iconoclastic, a rare baseball player who can thrive while contract talks for major dollars are ongoing. He's made some surprising calls before, like when he declined to accept the Phillies' offer as a second-year player and took a $500,000 renewal, and when he turned down an offer for "Jered Weaver'' money late last season from the Phillies.