CLEARWATER, Fla. — This afternoon, Cole Hamels will discuss his impending free agency for the first (and likely last) time this spring. It's an issue that will hover over this franchise until a resolution is reached — whether it be this spring or not until November. Hamels could set the public tone for negotiations, which are expected to continue through the spring, during his press conference.
Here are the most pressing factors you need to know.
1. Cole Hamels is 28. OK, you probably already knew that. But that number is the most important of them all. Hamels is one of the only core players on this team on that side of 30. The sticking point in contract negotiations with the Phillies figures to be length, as team president David Montgomery intimated in an interview two weeks ago. All John Boggs, Hamels' agent, must do is point to the five-year, $120 million deal Cliff Lee signed. Lee was 32 when he agreed to the deal. So Boggs will likely argue Hamels is at least worth five guaranteed years and maybe more.
2. Will there be a deadline? Boggs has shown a willingness to negotiate once the season begins with his clients. Most recently, Adrian Gonzalez signed a massive eight-year deal with Boston two weeks into the 2011 season. But Hamels could decide the distraction is not productive and ask his agent to cease negotiations once the Phillies depart Florida. Boggs is expected in Phillies camp sometime this spring to meet with Ruben Amaro Jr. and his lieutenants. Setting end-of-spring deadlines for contract negotiations has become more and more popular among players and agents.