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Red Sox "Still In Mix" For Free Agent Josh Hamilton

Boston is a long shot to sign the outfielder, but they're keeping their options open

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Red Sox have an outside shot at signing Josh Hamilton. There's a lot that likely needs to happen before they could do so, and with the Dodgers -- not the Rangers -- signing Zack Greinke for mega-millions this past weekend, Boston's chances didn't get any better. That isn't stopping them from being in the mix for the free agent outfielder, though, according to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes:

The Red Sox, according to a baseball source, remain in a holding pattern on Josh Hamilton, the free-agent outfielder who reportedly has designs on a long-term contract of at least six years.

He won't get a deal of that length from the Red Sox, but Boston officials will remain in the mix for Hamilton as long as the possibility, however slim, exists that he could be had for a shorter deal.

Hamilton can want six years all day long right now, but it's not coming from Boston, and as of now, there's no indication it's coming from anywhere else, either. However, he's also unlikely to sign for the three years that Boston would be comfortable at. Remaining in contact with him and his agent makes sense, though, as a non-zero chance is still a chance, and a few things could happen to make Hamilton fit into Boston's plans.

The Rangers now have the money in their budget to bring him back in at a high average annual value, but they still have the chance to trade for Justin Upton and use their resources to bring in another pitcher instead of Hamilton. Should that happen, Texas is out, and since they are considered the most-likely destination at this point by both Edes and others, that's significant.

The Mariners would then likely become the most-significant impediment to the Red Sox' hopes for Hamilton, as they are in a position to offer the money and at least a fourth year, should their desperation drive them to it. They need bats, and with the pitching they have on the farm, they need to be funneling their money into offense. Hamilton's extreme power might be hindered a bit by the move to pitcher-friendly Safeco, but not by as much as left-handers with mere mortal power, and success by him -- success no one else has been having over the last few years -- could convince future free agents that it's not as much of a canyon as it used to be now that the fences are moved in.

Edes also says the Yankees -- who we knew about -- and the Phillies are potential destinations for Hamilton. The free agent has no reasons to rush things with any of these clubs, given the market hasn't formed around him in the way he had hoped. Plus, once a few other items get sorted out -- most notably, the will-he-or-won't-he market for Upton, as well as figuring out whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury is actually going anywhere -- there's a chance Hamilton will get an opportunity to sign for more than the three years, $75 million that keeps being bandied about at this early stage of the off-season. At that point, Boston is likely out of things, and it's why they're a long shot now. But keeping themselves apprised of his market doesn't hurt one bit.