Phillies naturally asking a lot for Cole Hamels

(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The Phillies starting rotation next year could be quite the mystery, seeing as they have three starting pitchers rumored to appear on the trade market.

A.J. Burnett remains desired by the Pirates (and Dodgers and Giants) at this point, and desired by the Yankees no longer. Cliff Lee is also not hotly pursued, as he is on the mend from an injury. Cole Hamels, however, has gotten some attention for his solid numbers, good health and high ceiling.

The difference between Burnett, Lee and Hamels, however, is that Hamels is apparently not available.

The Red Sox have tried, but Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston is reporting that Hamels is not going anywhere - at least, not for a hefty price. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has confirmed the same. Last week, he wrote that the Phillies were requiring three top prospects for their lefty ace. He has since updated that number to "four or five" after being corrected by a Phillies official who said that three prospects was "too conservative" a number.

The Red Sox and Pirates have both interest in acquiring starting pitching and top-ranked farm systems, and the Phillies have indicated that Hamels isn't going anywhere for just anything ("barely available," Jon Heyman calls Hamels). It makes sense for them to jack the price up on what is arguably their most superior trade chip - so superior, in fact, that they may not want to trade him.