The Phillies and star lefthander Cole Hamels are said to be "moving in the right direction'' in mega-contract talks, people familiar with the talks told CBSSports.com.
The Phillies' willingness to go to six years, first reported by CBSSports.com, is a key development, giving them a strong chance. However, there's no word yet Hamels has made a decision.
The Phillies' original idea was a deal similar to Matt Cain's entire contract, including his extension, meaning $127.5 million for six years. But the Phillies have gone up from there. The final number could be closer to Johan Santana's $137.5-million, six-year deal, or perhaps even higher than that.
The Philies have made Hamels their only priority, ashey see Hamels, a 28-year-old lefthander, as key to their future. All possible trades are on hold while they try to hash it out with Hamels.
Hamels is known to like Philadelphia (he lives there year-round) and the Phillies. But it's rare for a big star to sign so close to free agency. The idea of exploring free agency was thought to be intriguing to him, as well.
While Philly's effort is certainly strong, Hamels is hard to predict. Early in his career, he once accepted a renewal by the Phillies rather than take their offer. Later, he took a three-year deal (for $20 million) when no one expected it.