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Report: Hamels Wants Seven Years

May 14, 2012, 1:56 AM EDT

Should the Phillies pay Cole Hamels? Thoughts on what kind of money and years it might take to get him under contract.

The richest contract ever signed by a Major League pitcher is seven years, $161 million, awarded to C.C. Sabathia by the Yankees in December ’08. If the latest report from Howard Eskin is true, Cole Hamels could be aiming to surpass those figures.

Never mind the money, which we already expect will climb north of $20 million annually. Seven years! The longest the Phillies have gone with any pitcher during the Pat Gillick/Ruben Amaro era is five years to Cliff Lee.

That might be a stumbling block.

And the money! With player salaries constantly on the rise, a future 29-year-old Hamels figures to command record-breaking numbers, especially should this season continue on its current course. Cole is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 2012, and seems to get better with every year.

With all of this in mind, I still prefer Hamels in red pinstripes next season. Besides the fact that he is elite, we’re talking about a homegrown talent, the Most Valuable Player on the only world championship team from Philadelphia in nearly 30 years. Obviously emotions have no place in business, but cutting this guy loose could be bad for baseball and for business.

Yes, the Phillies have been burned by lengthy contracts, none more prevalent for the moment than Ryan Howard’s five-year extension at $125 million. When it comes to the truly great players though, sometimes you just have to take a leap.

Does Hamels belong in that company? Whether the Phillies think so or not, somebody will be paying Cole a king’s ransom.