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Cole Hamels is still on the Phillies

With the Winter Meetings now over, it appears less likely than before that Cole Hamels will be traded.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

When the Winter Meetings began on Monday, Cole Hamels was one of the biggest attractions at the circus.

There were three teams reportedly interested in him; the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers. All three teams had the prospects and the financial wherewithal to make a deal, but now, four days later,, with a whirlwind of activity behind us, it looks far less likely Hamels is going anywhere anytime soon.

Folks, that ain't a bad thing.

Earlier today, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal sent out a series of tweets that was broken down by our own LTG8 here. But the bottom line is, the demand for Cole is shrinking.

The Red Sox acquired three starting pitchers this week, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson. None of those three are considered an "ace" pitcher, and with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Brandon Workman, it's hard to envision Boston's rotation being playoff worthy.

Still, that's a lot of starting pitching to have on hand to still go out and trade for Cole Hamels.

Los Angeles signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year contract, and now have a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and, as of right now, Juan Nicasio listed as the #5 starter on the depth chart.

While the Dodgers do still have the prospects to get a deal done for Hamels, do they want to give up a Joc Pederson or some other highly touted guy, pay Hamels the four years and $90 million left on his deal (L.A. is one of the team not on Hamels' no-trade list and would not be required to pick up his option year), when they already have four viable starters in the rotation? Or, they could just sign James Shields to a deal and get a solid #2 guy without giving up the prospects.

It sure looks like L.A. is out.

As for Chicago, they just signed Jon Lester to a monster deal, and also inked Jason Hammel to a free agent contract. They'll join a rotation featuring Jake Arietta, Kyle Hendricks and one of a number of other arms for the #5 spot. Again, there's room there for Hamels as the co-ace of the Cubs, but after signing two free agents this week, are they prepared to make another big splash in the trade market?

Sure, there are plenty of teams without an ace out there. In fact...

The New York Yankees have a clear need for a top-notch starter, but they don't have the kind of prospects those other three teams do. Toronto's best arms are R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman and Mark Buehrle, so if they're serious about contending, Hamels would make sense. San Francisco was in on Lester until the end, but has never been mentioned in the Hamels sweepstakes because of their lack of high-end prospects as well. Baltimore has done nothing this off-season and their best pitcher is Chris Tillman. They could sure use Cole.

Finding a team that has lots of good young talent, gobs of payroll, and a motivation to deal, has always been tough. And after the Winter Meetings, the motivation for the three top contenders appears to have lessened.

Clearly, the Phils are motivated sellers. Trading Jimmy Rollins and Antonio Bastardo was the first step. The consensus is they've done quite well in those two deals, and you can bet they're still interested in dealing Hamels for the right price.

But that price has to be right. It cannot come down. And for that reason, Cole Hamels is still a Phillie, and probably will be for a while.

Folks, that ain't a bad thing.