The Phillies are reportedly preparing a large extension offer for 28-year-old southpaw Cole Hamels, who shut down the Rockies today at Coors Field in a well-scouted game. We've heard Hamels expects to be paid as an elite pitcher, so his next contract is surely headed north of $100MM. In recent months Matt Cain and C.C. Sabathia both chose extensions over the open market, signing five-year contracts worth $112.5MM and $122MM in new money, respectively.
The Cain and Sabathia contracts include reasonable sixth-year vesting options, but that fully guaranteed sixth year is probably what both pitchers sacrificed by signing prior to full-blown free agency bidding wars. The Phillies already have one starting pitcher megadeal on the books, having created the template by signing Cliff Lee for five years and $120MM plus a vesting option in December 2010. A year and a half later, a Lee/Cain/Sabathia-type contract would be a reasonable offer from the Phillies for Hamels, but he may want more. The clock is ticking, because if they can't extend Hamels, the Phillies' best path is probably to trade Hamels for a nice bounty this month. How do you see it playing out?