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With teams signing starters, Cole Hamels deal may be less likely

Heading into the Winter Meetings, Cole Hamels was Ruben Amaro Jr.'s top trade chip. He was a wanted man, and all that stood in the way of turning him into a handful of prospects was Amaro's evaluation of the potential return of a trade. The Phillies GM remained steadfast in his desire to get nothing but an elite set of prospects from another team, but was seen as overvaluing his players.

There were four teams who seemed to corner the market on Hamels rumors: The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Chicago Cubs.

However, it was widely known that there was an abundance of starting pitching on the free agent market, or on the trade block, and other pitchers may not cost as much as Amaro's price tag. Jon Lester and Max Scherzer were available for the right price, and who knows what trade can be scared up at the Winter Meetings? Scherzer remains available, as does James Shields, and the free agent market next winter will feature a new class of plentiful arms, including David Price and Jordan Zimmermann.

The Cubs eventually won the Jon Lester sweepstakes, nailing down the 30-year-old lefty with a six-year, $155 million deal. The Dodgers acquired 31-year-old free agent Brandon McCarthy with a four-year, $48 million deal last night during one of their more straight forward moves in what turned out to be a burst of activity. And Thursday morning, the Red Sox traded slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for starter Rick Porcello and a minor leaguer, seemingly filling their own starting pitching need. They nabbed Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks for three minor leaguers.

That leaves the Giants, who don't have the sort of strong minor league system from which Ruben Amaro reportedly hopes to pluck top prospects. Barring a new candidate, which is entirely plausible, rumors of a Hamels deal may die down for the time being.