- Last Updated: 10:00 PM, July 18, 2012
- Posted: 12:34 AM, July 18, 2012
The Phillies are operating on two planes with Cole Hamels, according to executives monitoring whether the lefty will be made available for trade.
They are entrenched in serious negotiations to sign the lefty long term. However, in the words of one veteran AL scout, they also are “putting their ducks in a row so that if they have to trade him and [fellow potential free agent Shane] Victorino, they could do it fast.”
Philadelphia probably has set a date — such as July 27 — by which negotiations must be completed or they have worked back into playoff contention, or else they will try to deal Hamels, who instantly would become the best pitcher available.
The Phillies’ greatest difficulty in extending Hamels might be the sale of the Dodgers. The new ownership has made it clear it will spend to make the Dodgers a jewel again and Hamels is from Southern California.
“I hate to use the tampering word, but I guarantee you that it has been made very clear to the Hamels camp in some way that if he reaches free agency the Dodgers would be willing to make him the highest-paid pitcher ever or something close to it,” another longtime scout said. “I cannot tell you how many people who have had dealings with the Dodgers keep using the same term: ‘They are going to make a huge splash.’ Bringing Hamels home is a huge splash. So unless Philadelphia is going to pay him the top of the market, why would he re-sign?”
The Phillies reportedly are willing to bid at least the same $120 million they gave Cliff Lee because the Dodgers threat has them realizing “their best number has to come now,” said an official who speaks regularly with Philadelphia’s hierarchy.
One top NL executive said, “The Phillies’ M.O. is to sign their own guys to huge deals. So I think they might push, push, push to sign him because if not, aren’t they pretty much signaling to their fans that it is the end of this great era?”
If the retention effort fails, the Phillies’ trade agenda will benefit from the intensifying AL West rivalry between the Angels and Rangers. Yes, the Dodgers would love Hamels now and so would many other contenders. But the Dodgers are not blessed with as deep a system as the Angels and especially the Rangers, who arguably are the two most motivated buyers this July.
The new rule stipulating that teams acquiring a walk-year player during a season cannot get draft-pick compensation afterward threatens to lower Philadelphia’s return. However, outside executives claim both the Rangers and Angels badly want Hamels and — just as vital — do not want the other to get him.Follow @NYPostsports