Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds

Negotiations between Cole Hamels and Phillies “are heating up”

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Cole Hamels’ agent is in Florida this week and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that long-term contract negotiations with the Phillies “are heating up.”

According to Salisbury, agent John Boggs has already met with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. once and plans to do so again later this week.

Asked to describe the present status of negotiations, Boggs said:

Basically, we’re talking. It’s a process. We’ve had a conversation and we’ll continue the dialogue. Ruben and I have a very good relationship.

However, he replied “I don’t see that happening” when asked if he thought it was possible for the two sides to reach an agreement before he leaves Florida.

The good news for the Phillies is that Boggs and Hamels apparently aren’t setting any sort of deadline for talks, so unlike many other impending free agents they won’t cut off all negotiations on Opening Day. So while they won’t be giving the Phillies a hometown discount, they also won’t be trying to pressure Amaro and company into what Boggs called “a frenzy” that can be created by self-imposed deadlines.

Ultimately it’s going to take more than $100 million to keep Hamels in Philadelphia beyond this season, but it sounds like the Phillies will have every opportunity to retain him if they’re willing to make that commitment before he hits the open market next winter.

Report: Phillies want a top-five prospect for Jeremy Hellickson

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 20: Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the second inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on July 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.

ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.

Video: Matt Cain launches a three-run home run

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 26: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants hits a three run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at AT&T Park on July 26, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.

Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.

It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.

On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.