According to a report by Jayson Stark last night, the Phillies are preparing a “substantial offer” to Cole Hamels to see if they can sign him in the next two weeks before the trade deadline.
A source tells Stark that even though the Phillies are right up against the $178 million luxury-tax threshold, they still believe they can sign Hamels and stay under the threshold next year.
These reports always make me laugh. What, exactly, does preparing an offer mean? It’s not a fruit basket. It’s a contract. The Phillies have undoubtedly been preparing an offer for the last five months, perhaps longer. As we learned with the Cliff Lee signing, these things often go down in informal conversations and text messages. It’s not Jerry Maguire. Hamels and Tom Cruise aren’t waiting by a fax machine waiting for an offer sheet to come through, screaming show me the money! If Ruben Amaro fires the right number into his battery pack-cased iPhone, then Hamels' agent, John Boggs, will call back. It's that simple.
The question is: How much will Hamels get? Right now, our millions meter is set at $146 million, which would pay Hamels almost $20 million more than Matt Cain, who received a six-year, $127 million deal in April. Stark doesn’t give a figure, but, obviously, cites the current market as a reasonable starting point.
The most interesting part of his report were quotes from a rival executive and an unknown Phillie:
There has been no indication the two sides have made any progress toward a new deal for months. However, executives of two clubs that spoke to Phillies' officials say Philadlephia has been expressing a surprising level of optimism it 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."
And that, according to one of Hamels' teammates, is no negotiating ploy.
"If Cole has his way," Hamels' friend said, "he'll wait 'till the end of the year, go out there and see what he's worth and then ask the Phillies, 'OK, what do YOU think I'm worth?' "
That sounds like Jimmy Rollins to me… but that’s just a guess.