According to Rob Bradford, the Red Sox are in on Josh Hamilton along with three-to-four other teams.
But wait! There's very, very interesting good news in there. Because the Red Sox aren't a non-player in a sea of teams offering Hamilton the world. According to Bradford, none of the teams are interested in signing Hamilton long-term, and are all waiting to see if someone offers him four years.
Previously, many Sox fans have been scared to death that the team would go nuts with Hamilton and sign him to some seven-year monster contract, undoing the good work they'd done in getting rid of the likes of Carl Crawford. While words from Ben Cherington and Larry Lucchino may have allayed those fears, the thought that Hamilton would ever actually drop into the Sox' range seemed ridiculous.
It's still a bit of a pipe dream to be sure, but the fact is that, at the moment, there are up to five teams in Josh Hamilton's market and nobody is even willing to go to four this early, much less six or seven.
How far do you go for Hamilton? At one, two, or three years he's an absolute no brainer. Players of his skill and age simply do not come in on such short commitments, and while Hamilton's risks are certainly greater than most players of his caliber, on such a short deal that risk just isn't enough to keep a team like the Sox from pulling the trigger.
That being said, Josh Hamilton will not be signing for three years. Unless there is some hardcore collusion going on here (and nobody wants to piss off the MLBPA), someone is going to four. Possibly five, but just the fact that Hamilton could come in at as little as four is something more than surprising. And if three is a no-brainer, four isn't that far off. Bradford says that three is Boston's limit, but when push comes to shove we'll see if that's really where they draw the line, or just typical negotiation talk.
Hamilton on a reasonable deal is still something of a pipe dream. Hamilton on three years is near enough to inconceivable (and that word, it does mean what I think it means). But for the first time Hamilton is perhaps a possibility more exciting than frightening, and certainly worth paying some serious attention to.