The Phillies would very much like to keep Cole Hamels from ever hitting the free-agent market this offseason. They've made as much clear with rumors flying that they were prepping a "big offer" for Hamels as recently as last week.
We now know -- well, reportedly anyway -- what that offer entails: 120 million dollars. (Yes, I wrote it in Dr. Evil's voice too. It's OK.)
That's according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who reports that the Phillies "are said to be planning to offer at least $120 million" to Hamels with their upcoming big offer. The idea behind this offer, obviously, is to shut down any trade rumors surrounding Hamels and, more importantly, keep him from hitting market this offseason.
Heyman also reports, via "agent sources," that if Hamels hits the market he could "get upward of $150 million, or more, as a free agent." Somehow that doesn't even seem remotely conservative.
Of course length of the contract also matters.
Which brings us to this today's big question: is $120 million over X amount of years enough to keep Hamels from leaving? I say no, and I say it's not even close.
Cliff Lee signed a six-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies during free agency in 2010. This is the theoretical deal that the Phillies are throwing out there. The problem with this is that Lee turned down more money to stay in Philly. Lee didn't want to pitch in New York, he was comfortable in Philadelphia and he believed the Phillies would be competitive for some time (whoops). Ruben Amaro Jr. was dealing from a position of power.
That's not the case with Hamels, he knows that the Phillies have a limited window to sign him -- about two weeks unless they're bailing on the idea of getting anything in return for him -- and has apparently always been interested in testing the market. There are teams out there, whether it's the Dodgers or Yankees or whoever, that will give him far more than the Phillies are offering.
Which is why, as Heyman notes, many people believe the Phils will need to approach something in the Johan Santana range of $137.5 million over six years.
And with their investments in a few high-priced superstars already cranking up the payroll, that may be tough to do.