How Bryce Harper, Nationals Could Keep Free Agent Cole Hamels with Phillies

Michael Nargi@NargOnSportsSenior Analyst IMay 15, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 08:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after scoring against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on May 8, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Cole Hamels is reportedly looking for a seven-year deal, according to Howard Eskin of Sports Radio 94 WIP, and the Philadelphia Phillies are hoping they can do what it takes to keep him in town, especially with the emergence of the Washington Nationals.

The formula is simple: Washington's success along with the success of Bryce Harper increase the chances of Hamels staying in Philly. 

Hamels tried his best to send Harper a message the first time they faced each other and fuel was thrown onto the already burning fire with the bean ball.

That pitch was seen live on national television and took the Phillies and Nationals rivalry to a new level.

Did that one pitch create enough of a rivalry between Harper, Hamels, Washington and Philadelphia to force the Phillies to re-sign Hamels?

It certainly had to increase the Phillies' desire to keep Hamels around. Especially after seeing the Nats' fans pouring out to the ballpark that weekend. A shift in the division is clearly happening and it's because of the rise of the Nationals.

It's up to the Phillies to do what they have to do to stay afloat.

The potential of another 10 years of Harper vs. Hamels matchups might be an intriguing factor when the Phillies try to decide to sign Hamels to a huge deal or not.

Not only is there a clear rivalry between Hamels and Harper and the Nationals, but Hamels might be pivotal down the road in getting Harper out at the plate.

As Harper matures and becomes the MLB hitter that many expect him to be, the Nats will be improving within the division. Every division game will have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the NL East.

The Phillies might want to have a left-handed weapon to neutralize Harper's lefty bat.

In a big regular season game or postseason game, it would ease Phillies fans' minds to have Hamels taking the mound, knowing that there's a chance to get Harper out.

It's not just Harper who the Phillies should worry about—it's the entire Nationals team. The Nats are rapidly emerging as one of the elite teams in the National League while the Phillies look like they're settling for mediocre results.

If the Phillies want to compete for the playoffs in years to come, they'll have to go through the Nats and will need Hamels to do it.

It will be impossible to ignore Washington's success when the Phillies are contemplating giving Hamels the contract he's asking for. Times have changed within the NL East and the Phillies are beginning to realize it.

Without Hamels, the Phillies will not have a chance in the division, let alone in the playoffs.