DUNEDIN, Fla. Negotiations between the Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels are heating up.
John Boggs, Hamels San Diego-based representative, is spending the week in Florida and is in the Clearwater area. He has already spoken to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and plans to again before heading back west. Hamels, of course, is eligible for free agency after the season.
Boggs, who is visiting with a number of clients in Florida,was in attendance for the Phillies-Blue Jays game in Dunedin on Tuesday.
Basically, were talking, he said of the Hamels situation. Its a process. Weve had a conversation this week and well continue the dialogue. Ruben and I have a very good relationship.
Citing privacy, Boggs was reluctant to say a lot about thenegotiations. Asked if he believed the two sides were making progress, he smiled and said, Im an optimist. Im always optimistic.
Boggs was asked if he believed a deal could be reached before he left Florida at the end of the week.
I dont see that happening, he said. But I really dont want to handicap it. We can continue talking by telephone after I leave.
Its not unusual for a player in the final year of his contract to set opening day as a negotiating deadline. Boggs indicated that he would not do that.
Deadlines create a frenzy, he said. Were always willing to listen. The goal of the negotiation is to not disrupt Coles preparation for the season and his focus on winning. We want to keep the business side separate.
Hamels, 28, opened spring training by expressing his desire to remain with the Phillies, but hes also aware that he will be in high demand if he reaches the free-agent market. Earlier this winter, Boggs made it clear that Hamels was seeking to be paid as one of the elite pitchers in the game (see story). That likely means a multiyear deal with an average annual value of 20 million or more.
Hamels avoided salary arbitration earlier this winter by signing a one-year deal worth 15 million. He is one of five Phillies making 15 million or more this season, joining Cliff Lee (21.5 million), Roy Halladay (20 million), Ryan Howard (20 million) and Chase Utley (15 million).