Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/25/12

Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels had long been the subject of speculation of where he would end up spending the 2013 season.

In the end, however, there was one place that he really wanted to end up.

"It's very hard to leave a place you've had so many great memories and have been able to enjoy so much good, and you know there's so much more good to come. You don't want to miss it, you don't want to not be a part of it," Hamels said.

And with that and a whole lot of green, Hamels waived his right to become a free agent and signed a six-year, $144 million deal to remain with the Phillies -- the club that drafted him in the first round in 2002.

It is a landmark deal in so many ways for Hamels and the Phils. The contract was the second longest ever given to a starting pitcher in major league history, topped only by C.C. Sabathia's $161 million, seven-year contract in 2008. It was the first contract of more than five years given to a Phils starting pitcher in franchise history.

"He's a special player, he's someone who's grown up in our organization. We think he's one of the elite left-handers in the game," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said at the midday press conference to announce the signing. "We're happy to have gotten it done. We hope to give ourselves a chance and we think this is the best way to give ourselves a chance to bring home another championship here in Philadelphia, with Cole than without him. And we've expressed that to him pretty explicitly."

Hamels was projected to be the top free agent of this winter's class. The Dodgers, Angels, Yankees and Red Sox were said to be interested in him.

But negotiations between Amaro and Hamels' agent John Boggs were accelerated shortly after the All-Star Break.

"When the negotiations finally picked up, that was when I really knew they were fully committed to trying to keep me," Hamels said. "I was very excited about it. ... This is what I know. This is where I wanted to be. This is why we allowed for us to have than open negotiations."

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