The Phillies plan to offer Cole Hamels a large contract extension in order to see if they can lock the southpaw up before the July 31 trade deadline, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The size of the proposal is unknown, though a source tells Stark that the Phillies have debated about whether or not to break their unofficial club policy of not signing a pitcher to more than five guaranteed years.
We recently heard that the Phillies were willing to go beyond four years to sign Hamels, though if the Phils aren't willing to go beyond five years, Hamels could easily get a minimum six-year deal on the open market this winter. If it's just length and not money (an estimated $24-25MM per season) that's the issue, the gap could possibly be closed by a vesting option.
This could explain why the Phillies are internally optimistic that they can re-sign Hamels, Stark hears from two executives from opposing teams.
"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."
If Hamels turns down the offer, then the Phillies could explore trading the southpaw before the trade deadline, though Stark notes that the Phillies intend to wait as long as possible to decide if they'll be sellers given that Chase Utley, Ryan Howard are off the DL and Roy Halladay will also soon return.