Amaro: Phillies intend to keep Hamels
GM denies he's shopping left-hander, optimistic he will sign extension
PHILADELPHIA -- If Phillies fans think speculation about Cole Hamels is hot today, just wait a couple weeks.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday the team remains optimistic it can sign Hamels to a contract extension, despite indications the parties are not close to an agreement. Amaro also downplayed multiple reports the Phils are calling teams to gauge interest in Hamels, in the event they decide to make a move if the team falls out of contention in the National League leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The Phillies are 36-45, their worst record through 81 games since 1997.
"It's a matter of having good players, including Cole and others, who are outstanding All-Star-caliber players," Amaro said about the reports involving Hamels. "And teams who are contenders have an interest in them. That's how it works. It's a product of the time and circumstance."
Hamels will command a monster deal if he hits the free-agent market, potentially more than the five-year, $120 million contract Cliff Lee signed with the Phils in December 2010, considering Hamels' talents and the fact that he is just 28 years old.
"I've never had any indication at all, to be frank with you, that the goals haven't remained the same on both sides," Amaro said. "[On one side is] a club that wants to continue to have the player. [The other side is] the player that -- I believe -- has given no indication that he wants to leave."
Asked Saturday in Miami if the Phillies' losing ways could impact his decision in the offseason, Hamels said, "I'm not even thinking about that. I'm trying to not lose. Like today. I've got a game in five days, so that's all my focus."
Amaro would not comment on where negotiations stand with Hamels, although ESPN.com reported the Phils will make one more push to sign the left-hander before they seriously consider trading him.
"I have no indication at all that anything is too late for anything," Amaro said. "We stay optimistic that we're going to keep him in our uniform. And that's the bottom line. Whether we can do it or not, I don't know, but we stay optimistic that we will."
But if the Phillies continue to lose, they will have to start thinking about retooling for next season. Hamels could get quite a haul. Trades involving Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and others also could change the dynamic and chemistry of the clubhouse.
"Those are things that we may have to think about down the road," Amaro said. "But they're not what we're actively trying to do now.
"Our goal will always be the same: It is to be a contender this year and beyond, and to keep Cole Hamels in our uniform as long as he possibly can after 2012. I think our best chance to continue to be a contender is with him and not without him. We don't comment on all this stuff, but the one thing I can say about it is this is a product of the time of year, the fact we're not playing well and that we have very, very good players people will speculate and ask about."
Everybody is taking heat for the Phils' losing ways, including manager Charlie Manuel. Amaro said about Manuel: "He has done a fantastic job. We haven't played well."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.