General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he also was working on deals with rightfielder Hunter Pence and infielder Wilson Valdez, the two other Phillies eligible for salary arbitration.
At 28, Hamels is going into his final season of being eligible for salary arbitration. And after making $9.5 million last season, he is expected to get a raise of at least $4.5 million and possibly more in 2012.
In the unlikely event the Phillies and Hamels' agent, John Boggs, cannot reach an agreement before Tuesday's deadline, the sides will at least have to lay their cards on the table for the world to see.
For most of us, it's like watching a game of monopoly. The team will submit a salary at about $12 million. Hamels' agent will counter at about $16 million. The sides will have about a month to find a middle ground and likely avoid the ordeal of sitting in an arbitration hearing and telling each other and a panel of arbitrators why they think their number is best.
That's how this salary arbitration process has worked - some would argue that it has not worked - for nearly 40 years since the late Charlie Finley, colorful owner of the Oakland Athletics, warned his fellow owners that the system would benefit the players more than the teams. Ol' Charlie had that one right, even if he was a little off on the orange baseball idea.
Pence and Valdez will get raises in this process, too. Valdez, however, should not expect as much per victory as Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee. Pence, who will be 29 in April, made $6.9 million last season and likely will get at least a $4 million raise. Valdez, who is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time at age 33, could make $1 million for the first time in his career.
The most interesting case for the Phillies is Hamels, because he will be a free agent after this season. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock told CSNPhilly.com last week that the team is negotiating only a one-year deal for Hamels right now, and Amaro said that remained the case Monday night.
That's no reason to panic.
Negotiations almost always are driven by deadlines, and salary arbitration is the deadline on the front burner right now. That doesn't mean Hamels will be filing for free agency next November. It doesn't mean the sides cannot work out a long-term deal in spring training.
At some point, Hamels will have to decide whether the long-term deal the Phillies put on the table is worth signing.
We already know the Phils believe Lee is worth $24 million per year over five years and Halladay is worth $20 million a year over four years.
Hamels will head into his free-agent year at a much younger age than when the Phillies signed Lee and gave an extension to Halladay after acquiring him in a trade from Toronto. Given that fact, Hamels' agent could ask for more years than the Phillies gave Halladay and Lee.
If Hamels is seeking a seven-year contract with an opt-out clause like the deal the New York Yankees initially gave CC Sabathia, the marriage between the two sides could be in jeopardy. If Hamels loves Philadelphia and is willing to stay for Lee and Halladay money, it probably will get done.
The Phillies, of course, would love for Hamels to stick around at least another half-decade. He's the only homegrown ace on the staff, and he's the only one with a World Series MVP award. But even those attributes have a cap on what they are worth to the Phillies.
The best news for the Phillies and their fans these days is that given the current payroll situation, they would be able to find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency if Hamels' demands exceeded their expectations. Hamels' replacement would likely have an outstanding resume, but there's no guarantee he would be as good.
There is a guarantee, however, that JACKPOT, JACKPOT, JACKPOT will keep coming up for Cole Hamels even after he's done with the salary arbitration slot machine that has made so many baseball players wealthy men.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org or @brookob on Twitter.