LOS ANGELES -- It's getting closer and closer to crunch time for the Phillies and Cole Hamels.
Can the Phillies offer him a large enough contract before the July 31 Trade Deadline to forgo free agency? If not, do they trade him? Or do they hold onto him and take a shot at the postseason, despite the odds against it?
CBSSportsline.com reported Tuesday the Phillies are prepared to offer Hamels a six-year contract worth $130 million, which would be in line with the contract extension Matt Cain received from the San Francisco Giants earlier this season. Cain received a five-year, $112.5 million extension, but including his $15 million salary for 2012 their total commitment to him is $127.5 million.
It would not be a surprise at all if the Phillies match or slightly exceed Cain's contract.
In fact, it would be necessary if the Phillies expect to have any shot at all at getting Hamels to sign a deal just months away from free agency.
The Phillies are keeping quiet on contract negotiations, but Hamels' teammates clearly want him to stay.
"He's put himself in a position to be able to take care of his family," fellow ace Roy Halladay said Tuesday. "He has a right to do that. I'd like to see him do it here. I know there may have to be concessions on both sides, but hopefully they get close enough to do that. Honestly, I don't have a feeling one way or the other and I don't know if he does either to be honest with you. It's a ways away."
Halladay and Cliff Lee both accepted lesser deals to come to Philadelphia. It is unknown if Hamels would accept a lesser deal to stay. Hamels has said he would like to see his true value, which might mean he is interested in getting the biggest deal possible.
Or maybe he is just letting the Phillies know they have to come up with something fair.
"We talk about it, but it's nothing different than what he's told you guys," Halladay said. "He wants to be here, but once they get to the point where they're under the gun, then I think things start happening a little bit. At this point, it's getting close to that, and I think when it does, I think push comes to shove, he wants to be here. I think he's willing to do what he can to be here, and I think the organization feels the same, but it's hard to tell for both sides at this point."
No win, but Lee's gem in LA positive for Phils
LOS ANGELES -- Cliff Lee pitched brilliantly Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, but like almost every other start this season it didn't result in a win.
He should be used to it by now.
"It is what it is," he said after allowing just two hits and one run in eight innings in a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers in 12 innings. "I can only control what I can control. I felt like I pitched a good game."
Lee allowed one walk and struck out four, pounding the strike zone and throwing just 89 pitches. He has allowed five earned runs in 22 innings in his last three starts for a 2.05 ERA.
That is encouraging. If the Phillies keep the band together (i.e. not trade Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and others before the July 31 Trade Deadline) and take a run at their sixth consecutive postseason berth, they will need a strong finish from Lee, who won just one game in the first half of the season.
But the Trade Deadline loomed in the background Wednesday. The Texas Rangers had a top scout in attendance. There have been some quiet rumblings the Phillies could trade Lee before the Deadline, although it would be difficult based on the $87.5 million remaining on his contract after this season. But trading Lee would free up money for the Phillies to sign Hamels to an extension, although the entire process seems like a difficult one.
Naturally, the laid-back Lee isn't concerned with the Deadline.
"It's something that's out of my control," Lee said. "There's no sense in consuming any time with it. It's something that Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and those guys are involved in. We'll let them do their job."
Lee's only run came in the second inning when Juan Rivera hit a home run off the top of the left-field fence and bounced into the stands. John Mayberry Jr. had a chance to catch the ball, but he hit the wall and threw up his glove at the last second.
"I think if I would have jumped I would have probably had it," Mayberry said. "I haven't looked at the replay. But I know if I had just a couple more feet I would have been under it. I misjudged kind of how much space I had. I felt the warning track and obviously if I would have been able to get up to the wall I might have had a better chance of pulling it in."
De Fratus activated from DL, sent to Triple-A
LOS ANGELES -- The Phillies on Wednesday activated right-hander Justin De Fratus from the 60-day disabled list.
He will be in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
De Fratus, ranked No. 7 among the Phillies' top prospects, has been on the DL because of an injured right elbow. He has missed a lot of time, but if he pitches well, it isn't out of the question he could help the Phillies' bullpen at some point this season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.