By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether or not the Phillies trade Cole Hamels before the July 31st deadline will depend on if they believe they’re able to sign him to a new contract. According to a report, they’re getting ready to make their final push to make that happen.

The Philadelphia Phillies are preparing a substantial offer to their soon-to-be-free-agent left-hander Cole Hamels in an attempt to determine whether they can sign him to an extension in the next two weeks.

However, the Phillies are aware that in order to retain the winningest pitcher they have developed in the past 40 years, it could require one of the largest contracts in team history.

Although the Phillies’ payroll is approaching the $178 million luxury-tax threshold (and actually may already have exceeded it), the club believes it can find a way to sign Hamels and stay under the threshold in 2013 and beyond, a source said.

However, the Phillies never have signed a pitcher to a contract that included more than the five guaranteed years they gave Lee. And sources said they remain wary of guaranteeing six years or more, but have had numerous internal discussions about whether to break that precedent in Hamels’ case.

via Phils Readying Offer For Hamels by Jayson Stark

Peter Gammons suggested to 94WIP earlier this week that he believes the Phillies should consider trying to trade Cliff Lee, in an effort to clear salary to re-sign Hamels (read story

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