PBR - The wondering is finally over.

After weeks of negotiating the Phillies and Cole Hamels have agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension that will keep the 28-year-old left-hander in Philadelphia through at least the 2018 season.

The deal also includes a vesting option for a seventh year that could push the total value of the contract past $160 million.

The deal was confirmed by the Review early this morning. According to a source close to the negotiations, there will be a press conference at noon today at Citizens Bank Park formally announcing the extension. According to the source, the Phillies approached Hamels with this offer on Saturday.

The contract is the most lucrative in franchise history and the second largest by any pitcher in baseball, behind only CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, who signed a seven-year, $161 million deal before the 2009 season.

Hamels said all along that he wanted to remain in Philadelphia and wanted to emulate his childhood idol Tony Gwynn by staying with one franchise for his entire career. He also admitted he was interested in testing the waters in free agency to see his value on the open market. In the end, his comfort in Philadelphia won out.

Hamels' deal is worth an average annual salary of $24 million, meaning the Phillies have $68 million invested in three starting pitchers next season - Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.

As currently constructed, the Phillies are committed to $133 million in 2013 payroll for only nine players. This figure does not account for Carlos Ruiz (option) and Hunter Pence (arbitration).

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

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