Can the Phillies offer him a large enough contract before the July 31 Trade Deadline to forgo free agency? If not, do they trade him? Or do they hold onto him and take a shot at the postseason, despite the odds against it?
CBSSportsline.com reported Tuesday the Phillies are prepared to offer Hamels a six-year contract worth $130 million, which would be in line with the contract extension Matt Cain received from the San Francisco Giants earlier this season. Cain received a five-year, $112.5 million extension, but including his $15 million salary for 2012 their total commitment to him is $127.5 million.
It would not be a surprise at all if the Phillies match or slightly exceed Cain's contract.
In fact, it would be necessary if the Phillies expect to have any shot at all at getting Hamels to sign a deal just months away from free agency.
The Phillies are keeping quiet on contract negotiations, but Hamels' teammates clearly want him to stay.
"He's put himself in a position to be able to take care of his family," fellow ace Roy Halladay said Tuesday. "He has a right to do that. I'd like to see him do it here. I know there may have to be concessions on both sides, but hopefully they get close enough to do that. Honestly, I don't have a feeling one way or the other and I don't know if he does either to be honest with you. It's a ways away."
Halladay and Cliff Lee both accepted lesser deals to come to Philadelphia. It is unknown if Hamels would accept a lesser deal to stay. Hamels has said he would like to see his true value, which might mean he is interested in getting the biggest deal possible.
Or maybe he is just letting the Phillies know they have to come up with something fair.
"We talk about it, but it's nothing different than what he's told you guys," Halladay said. "He wants to be here, but once they get to the point where they're under the gun, then I think things start happening a little bit. At this point, it's getting close to that, and I think when it does, I think push comes to shove, he wants to be here. I think he's willing to do what he can to be here, and I think the organization feels the same, but it's hard to tell for both sides at this point."