It is looking increasingly unlikely that the Phillies will end up landing the haul they say they want in order to part with star lefty Cole Hamels. That's not to say a deal is impossible. But two potential suitors have dramatically increased their leverage in recent days, whittling away the likely effectiveness of a take-it-or-leave-it offer on the Phillies' part. The Red Sox have done the most to lessen their desperation for Hamels, acquiring Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley and Tigers righty Rick Porcello. While neither profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter, they do stabilize a Red Sox rotation that had entered the winter meetings as a serious offseason dealbreaker. With Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Brandon Workman joining Miley and Porcello, Boston at least has five potential middle-of-the-rotation types. Of course, it still has question marks. The injury-plagued Buchholz has never made 30 starts in a season. Porcello is more of a No. 5 starter in a playoff rotation. Workman is still more potential than actuality. And, of course, there is no true workhorse ace, something Hamels would certainly give them. Yet the Red Sox have at least given themselves options, whether it is trading for a less expensive pitcher, or signing another middle-of-the-rotation type and waiting until the trade deadline to reevaluate their need for an ace.
Meanwhile, the Cubs' signing of Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal diminishes their need for Hamels. Again, you can never have too much pitching, and Chicago is clearly looking to make a splash. But Lester gives them more leverage. Meanwhile, the Dodgers' trade of Matt Kemp does not bode well for a potential Hamels deal, both because it moves some money that could enable them to sign a free agent, and, even moreso, because it opens up a spot in the outfield for center field prospect Joc Pederson, whom the Phillies would seem likely to demand in any Hamels deal (if they are honest with their qualification of the haul that they are looking for).
Look, it was always unlikely that Hamels would be dealt, for the precise reasons that we are now watching in action. Star pitchers simply do not get traded with five years and $90 million remaining on their contracts, because any team that can accomodate such money can also afford to sign an elite starter on the free agent market. The Phillies' best chance at the package they are looking for will involve shipping Hamels to a team with some financial constraints and then eating some of his contract in order for that team to accomodate him. That's just how it works. Maybe Boston covets Hamels enough to disprove this logic. For now, though, Hamels is looking like he will be the lone survivor.