Originally written on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 7/19/12

For most of the season it was assumed that the Philadelphia Phillies would trade left-hander Cole Hamels at some point, since the three-time All-Star will hit free agency when the year is over. The conventional wisdom was that the Phillies couldn’t afford to be competitive for him money-wise because of the other financial commitments on their ledger.

Now all of that has changed apparently, as the Phillies and representatives for Hamels are reportedly deep into contract negotiations that would keep him in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.

The Phillies have made re-signing Hamels their top priority and have begun to make a major push to get him under contract before the July 31 trade deadline. Philadelphia is now willing to sign the 28-year-old to a six-year extension, whereas the team was previously only offering four years.

Back in April the San Francisco Giants signed right-hander Matt Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million extension, which has set the market for pitchers at this point. The problem for the Phillies is that their payroll is currently right up against the $178 million luxury-tax threshold and signing Hamels would make it almost impossible to stay under that number.

If the Phillies and Hamels can’t agree to a deal, they have already laid the groundwork for a trade. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers have already expressed interest and Philadelphia has scouted both of those team’s farm systems extensively.

Hamels has spent his entire career with the Phillies, after the team made him the 17th pick in the 2002 MLB Draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego.

So far this season Hamels is 11-4 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He has 125 strikeouts and 30 walks in 126 innings. He carries a career record of 85-58 with a 3.36 ERA and 1,216 strikeouts over his six-and-a-half professional seasons.

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