The most pressing financial issue the Phillies face is whether a lucrative contract for Cole Hamels can fit into the team's ever-expanding budget. Team president David Montgomery said the money is available. But can the sides agree on the proper length for a deal?
"I don't think it's difficult," Montgomery said. "We've let Cole know we're anxious to have him stay here. Cole enjoys it here. He's not only been a quality pitcher, but he involves himself in the community. It'll probably come down to what we think is an appropriate length and what they think. You try to minimize risk by not going longer than necessary. And a player is looking for as much security as he can get. It's an equation that takes time to hopefully get worked out."
Hamels, 28, will be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. He'll make $15 million this year. The Phillies say they could talk a long-term deal during spring training. Before signing Cliff Lee to a five-year contract and Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year deal, the club was not amenable to guaranteeing a pitcher more than three years.
"You'd like to go as short as you possibly can," Montgomery said. "At the same time, every once in a while, you have a circumstance where we're not going to get it done at two or three years.
"I think, thanks to our fans, we no longer have to convince players that this is a good place to play. As a result, hopefully, when the club and player sit down you can find the common ground."