The Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels' agent, John Boggs, have picked up the pace of discussions in recent days, sources said, and those intensified discussions are an indication the Phillies have started a major push to sign Hamels before the July 31 trade deadline.

Meanwhile, clubs that have been speaking with the Phillies say the team has essentially put trade talks on hold, and have been much more focused on signing the 28-year-old left-hander than on dealing him before the deadline.

"They want to sign him, and that's their priority," said an official of one club that spoke with the Phillies' brass this week. "They're really not even entertaining (trade) offers at this point."

Another source said the Phillies were now willing to sign Hamels to a six-year contract, a first for any starting pitcher in club history. For months, length of contract has been the No. 1 sticking point in the negotiations. The Phillies initially offered Hamels a four-year extension last offseason, but they came to the conclusion they had no alternative but to soften that stance as Hamels drew closer to becoming a free agent this fall.