The Phillies are operating on two planes with Cole Hamels, according to executives monitoring whether the lefty will be made available for trade.

They are entrenched in serious negotiations to sign the lefty long term. However, in the words of one veteran AL scout, they also are "putting their ducks in a row so that if they have to trade him and [fellow potential free agent Shane] Victorino, they could do it fast."

Philadelphia probably has set a date — such as July 27 — by which negotiations must be completed or they have worked back into playoff contention, or else they will try to deal Hamels, who instantly would become the best pitcher available.

The Phillies' greatest difficulty in extending Hamels might be the sale of the Dodgers. The new ownership has made it clear it will spend to make the Dodgers a jewel again and Hamels is from Southern California.

"I hate to use the tampering word, but I guarantee you that it has been made very clear to the Hamels camp in some way that if he reaches free agency the Dodgers would be willing to make him the highest-paid pitcher ever or something close to it," another longtime scout said. "I cannot tell you how many people who have had dealings with the Dodgers keep using the same term: 'They are going to make a huge splash.' Bringing Hamels home is a huge splash. So unless Philadelphia is going to pay him the top of the market, why would he re-sign?"