Cole Hamels Contract: Talks With Phillies Reach 'Sensitive' Stage -- Report

With the MLB trade deadline almost two weeks away, the Philadelphia Phillies are quickly trying to figure out their strategy with pitcher Cole Hamels. According to a report by ESPN.com Jerry Crasnick, the two sides took the weekend off when it came to talking about a possible long-term deal after nearing a "sensitive" stage in talks.

The sensitive level has heightened because of two aspects says Cransnick and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal: 1) Hamels is uncertain if he wants to test the free agent market, which would have viable suitors -- like possibly the St. Louis Cardinals (his wife is from Missouri says Cransnick) or Los Angeles Dodgers (Hamels is from San Diego) -- that could possibly pay more than $127.5 million over six years; 2) the MLB's non-waiver trade deadline which would allow the Phillies organization to at least get something in return from a would-be free agent.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. talks of re-tooling, competing in each of the next several seasons. Such a goal would be more difficult to fulfill without Hamels. But trading him — along with center fielder Shane Victorino and any other Phillies player who has value — also could benefit the organization long-term.

There's also a possibility, says Cransnick, that Hamels returns to Philadelphia even if the Phillies do trade him. This gives one an idea how much the lefty likes the organization.

But people close to Hamels said he was resigned to testing free agency until the Phillies put on a strong rush to re-sign him earlier this month, and part of him is intrigued by the thought of going on the open market and seeing what opportunities might await.

The MLB trade deadline is July 31.

For more on the Philadelphia Phillies, please visit our site The Good Phight.

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