PBR - Reports surfaced late Thursday that the Phillies intensified their talks with Cole Hamels about a contract extension. Now, details are starting to leak out.

Two sources close to the negotiations told me earlier today the hurdle isn't money, but rather the length of the contract. The Phillies are prepared to offer a four-year deal worth somewhere near $100 million, but Hamels is seeking seven years and the Phils are reticent to offer five-year contracts to pitchers.

The club did, however, sign 32-year-old Cliff Lee to a five-year deal with an option for a sixth prior to the 2011 season.

Hamels, 28, has publicly said he wants to remain in Philadelphia, but he also has admitted he's intrigued by the lure of the free agent market.

The Phillies already have $113 million in salary commitments for 2013. If Hamels returns next season that will push the payroll somewhere in the neighborhood of $135 million, meaning the Phils likely will be out of the running for any big name free agents this offseason (i.e., Josh Hamilton, Melky Cabrera, Michael Bourne).

Hamels has said all of the right things. He was hammered with questions in Kansas City during the All-Star Game festivities and gave honest answers. 

"I understand the nature of the business, I really do," Hamels said. "I've been a Phillie forever, and it's always going to be a possibility I'll be a Phillie forever. I don't think the three weeks [before the trade deadline] will matter as much."

Despite the likelihood the Phils will fall short of the postseason, Hamels sees the club remaining competitive in the future - a major selling point that he may not necessarily find on the free agent market.

"It takes a long time to build up a fan base like they did," Hamels said. "Now they have it. You don't ever want to just let it wash away. So I think they're always going to honor that."

Time is ticking away, but the Phillies appear willing to play ball with Hamels.

- Patrick Gordon  is the editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com or @Philabaseball on Twitter.

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