By Dayn Perry
The Phillies might be progressing toward a contract extension for lefty Cole Hamels. Or both sides might be locked in a holding pattern. The Sporting News takes the former position, while Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweets that the latter is the case.
Hamels, who's entering his walk year, will make $9.5 million for 2012, and, given his performance history and age (he won't turn 29 until December), he'll command a hefty contract on the market. The challenge for the Phillies is to lock him up before he gets there.
On the other hand, while the Phillies are flush with revenues these days, they're also committed to more than $112 million in payroll spread across just 12 players for next season. As well, they're also faced with losing Shane Victorino after this season, and following the 2013 season Chase Utley and Hunter Pence are both eligible for free agency. In a related matter, it's quite possible that the Phillies are going to run up against the luxury tax threshold in the near future. That's surely going to be part of their calculus.
Hamels's profile means he's likely going to command a contract of at least six years and at something north of $20 million per, unless, of course, the nebulous "hometown discount" comes into play. Are the Phillies willing to pay those rates and pony up for Victorino and take care of business with Utley and Pence when the time comes and perhaps pay the (luxury) tax man? Those are the difficult questions GM Ruben Amaro will soon be forced to answer. In all likelihood, everything starts with Hamels.