January 2 Philadelphia Inquirer:
When Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee commence the enviable task of plotting an order for their four ace pitchers this spring, it’s entirely possible the longest-tenured Phillie in the group will be the fourth starter. Cole Hamels is also the youngest of the bunch and, not surprisingly, the lowest paid.
Theoretically, he is the next in line for a multiyear extension, but those talks have yet to begin. As the Phillies’ payroll grows, it’s natural to wonder where Hamels fits.
Hamels’ current contract expires after the 2011 season, but he is not a free agent until the 2012 season is over. The lefthander is eligible for arbitration in 2012, and his future is just one of the many decisions the Phillies will face next off-season.
Then again, it’s also possible that the Phillies will resolve the Hamels question before next winter arrives. But Hamels’ agent, John Boggs, said recently that the Phillies have not approached him to negotiate his client’s next contract. Boggs said the ball was in the Phillies‘ court and he would be open to discussions during the season if the team initiates.
“My philosophy has always been the best position to take is one of concentrating on completing the existing contract with the club,” Boggs said. “Concentrate on the job at hand. If the Phillies determine they would like to talk to us about something, sure, we’d be all ears.”
The Phillies have negotiated extensions in-season before, signing Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge, and Jimmy Rollins to multiyear deals in recent years.
No doubt the Phillies are interested in locking up Hamels. He is, after all, one of the few core players under 30 on an aging team. His 2010 season erased many reservations about his ability to counter adversity on the mound. He is heavily involved in charitable ventures in the city and viewed as a model teammate and citizen by the front office.
When Hamels signed his deal in January 2009, both sides were optimistic.
“We will have another opportunity to have another one of these press conferences in three years,” Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said at the news conference to announce the deal.”
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