Phillies, Cole Hamels agree to a six-year, $144 million deal

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UPDATE: Jon Heyman says the deal is for six years and $144 million. There is also a 7th-year, vesting optiion making total package worth in excess of $160 million.

UPDATE: Buster Olney says that a deal is in place, with Hamels signing with the Phillies is for a little more than $140 million, over six years, pending a physical.

1:33 AM: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal has the scoop: Cole Hamels and the Phillies are close to a six-year, $137.5 million contract extension that would be the second largest deal ever given to a pitcher.

Hamels would essentially get $23 million per year, the same amount CC Sabathia received in his original seven-year, $161 million pact with the Yankees. That deal is the biggest ever for a pitcher. In terms of annual salary, Hamels would be the game’s third highest-paid pitcher behind Sabathia, whose renegotiated deal with the Yanks puts him at $24.4 million per year, and teammate Cliff Lee, who is making $24 million per season as part of a five-year, $120 million contract.

All things considered, it looks like a very fair deal for both sides. Maybe the Dodgers would go crazy and try to blow Hamels out of the water with an offer this winter, but barring that, $140 million seemed to be the likely price tag for the left-hander. The deal allows Hamels to get market value and stay with the only club he’s known during his professional career.

With Hamels out of the way, Zack Greinke would be the only elite starter available in free agency this winter. Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson would be next in line, something that will surely drive up their price tags. That Jackson settled for a one-year deal with the Nationals last winter is looking like a very astute move right now.

Hamels, 28, is 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 19 starts this season. While he battled injuries in high school and in the minors, he’s been plenty durable in the majors. His only DL stint in the last five years came in Aug. 2011, when he missed some time with shoulder inflammation. It didn’t prevent him from pitching 216 innings last year, and he’s on pace to make 30 starts for the fifth straight year in 2012. He’s 85-58 with a 3.38 ERA lifetime for the Phillies.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.