Hamels not worried about contract situation
Left-hander eligible for free agency following 2012 season
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels seems pretty cool and collected for somebody with so much on the line.
The Phillies fly north to Philadelphia following Sunday's Grapefruit League finale against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista. Opening Day is next Thursday in Pittsburgh, and Hamels is scheduled to pitch in the home opener on April 9 against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
He is likely to be pitching without a contract extension.
That could come eventually, but a source indicated Thursday the sides are not close to an agreement. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said this week the Phillies can afford three $20 million-a-year pitchers -- Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are the other two -- which is likely the minimum average annual value it would take to sign Hamels to an extension. Hamels could be looking for more than $120 million over six seasons, which would force the Phillies into some difficult decisions considering Shane Victorino also becomes a free agent after this season and Hunter Pence becomes a free agent following next season.
"I haven't been thinking about it at all," Hamels said after pitching 5 2/3 innings in Thursday's 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay at Bright House Field. "It's going to linger until something happens. Fortunately ... things will take care of itself."
It has been an interesting spring for Hamels. It seems anytime anything happens it somehow gets related to him. Red closer Ryan Madson needs Tommy John surgery. Does that make Hamels feel pressured into a contract to avoid the risk of injury? Answer: no. Magic Johnson is part of a group purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Did Hamels have a reaction to the news, knowing the Dodgers will have money to spend in the offseason?
"I didn't know Magic Johnson knew anything about baseball. That's my reaction," Hamels said with a laugh. "It's good to know all Major League teams have a functioning ownership, and things are more clear for everybody, not just in baseball."
So he never thought about how that news could help him in a few months?
"No, that's not what I'm thinking about," Hamels said.
Hamels said he talks to his agent, John Boggs, every couple of weeks, but mostly about his life and family. That might be true to an extent, but rest assured there are updates on his negotiations with the Phillies.
"It's all in Ruben's hands," Hamels said. "If I just get in good shape and I play, the Phillies will make offers and will counter, I guess, until things look the way they need to look."
Hamels continues to say he does not have a deadline for a deal, which is good for Philadelphia. He also hinted the Phillies might be waiting until after Opening Day to sign him because of potential luxury-tax implications, although that is no longer an issue because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"I guess I've got until the start of Spring Training next year [to sign]," Hamels said. "I guess that's kind of what it's down to. I've got 162 games to play, and then postseason and try to go to the World Series. That's always been my focus, being in the best possible shape to win a World Series again. That's just who I am. I just want to win and play my best with my teammates and winning a championship for the city of Philadelphia."
Hamels said his gut tells him that he will stay in Philly because of the way the club has locked up other homegrown talents.
"It's a great feeling to know they really value their homegrown guys, the guys they develop and take with high-round picks," he said. "You don't get too many opportunities to really get that high-round pick and then see them get to the Major Leagues and stay in the Major Leagues and have success.
"I think the Phillies have definitely shown that they want to keep those guys around, because that's how you build a team. I guess I'm fortunate enough to have the years in my favor with how young I am. They really like the young guys, and keep them around because they don't come around too often."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.