Thanks to reporter speculation on the speculation of a rival general manager, in conjunction with the news that -- surprise -- the Red Sox plan to spend some of their financial flexibility this off-season, Thursday's news wire was full of "Boston wants Josh Hamilton." Ben Buchanan said it was likely bunk at the time it was reported, as this was more connect-the-dots then anyone knowing Boston's actual intentions.
WEEI's Rob Bradford does everyone the courtesy of confirming that yes, there's nothing to those Josh Hamilton and the Red Sox rumors:
According to a baseball source, reports of the Red Sox' interest in free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton have been "overblown."
While the Red Sox are in the market for a pair of outfielders this offseason, Hamilton -- considered by most as the premier free agent on the market -- doesn't appear to be near the top of the team's list of players it hopes to target. While the Sox have talked to the 31-year-old's agent, Michael Moye, the communication was the same kind of due diligence done for a multitude of free agents.
The Red Sox have a ton of money that they could spend. They plan to spend, most likely, a considerable amount of it. What is unlikely is that they spend it all in one place, or on long-term deals with high-risk free agents, a fact that's pretty obvious at this point considering they traded away so much money in August, passed on Joe Mauer when he was on waivers, and then held on to their prospects rather than filling their shortstop hole with Jose Reyes this week. Josh Hamilton wants a long-term deal, and he's a high-risk free agent, so while those are the conditions surrounding him, Boston likely is not interested. See, that's how you connect the dots.
The Red Sox are thorough, though, and Hamilton's talent is unquestioned, even if it comes with a laundry list of concerns. It's smart for them to show some interest and get into the ear of Hamilton and his agent. It's not a likely scenario, but if Hamilton can't find what he wants from anyone, and because of it, Boston is able to pay him something like two years for $25 million a pop so that he can enter free agency again and still have a chance to sign that long-term deal he craves, and it's because they talked to him in November, then applause will be necessary for Cherington.
Boston knows it's unlikely he'll sign with them on those terms, but a connection should be made anyway. So, they've been in contact with Hamilton's agent, but according to Bradford, he's not at the top of their list by any means. If they get a chance to use that financial flexibility in the present to their advantage, without risking their post-2014 rosters -- the time when it's expected many top prospects will be ready for major-league service -- then they will. Just the fact his agent knows the Red Sox are curious could raise Hamilton's price elsewhere, too. There's a lot more that goes on in free agency than just identifying the best players and attempting to bring them aboard.