Should The Red Sox Trade For Cole Hamels?

SEATTLE - JUNE 19: Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a strike out pitch in the fourth inning to Miguel Olivo #30 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 19, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The strike out was career number 1000 for Hamels. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With the Phillies sitting at 36-45 through the first half of the season, the trade of Chad Qualls to the Yankees seems to have been the opening bell for the Great Philadelphia Fire Sale

The top prize on the block? Cole Hamels.

The 28-year-old lefty, once the back bone of a World Series championship-winning team, has now become an unaffordable luxury. With just the rest of the year remaining on his contract, the Phillies know they need to either extend him now, or deal him to whatever team is willing to pony up.

The Red Sox, for their part, could certainly use the help. With a 4.61 ERA from their starting rotation, the Sox rank 25th in the majors. They lack a clear front-line option between the still-struggling Jon Lester and the apparently fragile Josh Beckett, and no matter how good Franklin Morales has been it's hardly time to trust him in that role just yet.

Cole Hamels would fill that role in a hurry.

When coupled with a decent fastball, a devastating changeup will play in any market for seven innings. A strikeout an inning, few walks, no tendency for fly balls, and only homer prone in that he plays in Citizens Bank Park. If you're looking to buy an ace, Cole Hamels is absolutely an option.

But the price? It's pretty prohibitive. Per Buster Olney:

Not surprisingly, the Phillies' asking price for Hamels is said by sources to be very, very steep: package of 4 to 5 prospects, some A-plus.

The Sox certainly have the names to make it work now, with the likes of Bradley, Bogaerts, and Barnes fulfilling the need for "blue-chip" prospects. How many of the three the Sox have to include will depend on how the market develops, but expect to lose at least one, very possibly two in any deal for Hamels, along with some players like Brandon Jacobs or Garrin Cecchini.

Nobody wants to lose the likes of Barnes, Bradley, and Bogaerts. But, if the Sox could extend the 28-year-old ace, would it be an acceptable return?

My gut says "no." The Sox can only afford so many top-priced players without bringing in some cheap new blood. And while Will Middlebrooks is a step in the right direction, adding Hamels at the cost of one or two players the Sox hope will turn out to be starters in a few years' time strikes me as taking that step back.

I'll leave the question to you to discuss, however, OTM:

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