At 42-49, losers of four-of-five games, this Red Sox team that was once creeping towards the realm of buyers has now taken a clear step in the other direction. It would, in most people's estimations, take something close to a miracle for the Red Sox to invest in this team at the trade deadline and be justified in doing so.
Which makes it a little odd that the Red Sox are one of four teams still in on Hamels, and even sent scouts to his Sunday start against Miami, per Ken Rosenthal.
What they saw while they were there...not so great. One week after surrendering nine runs in three innings to the Giants in his last start of the first half, Hamels suffered another disaster outing Sunday afternoon, this time against the Marlins. He lasted just three innings again, allowing five runs on eight hits, bringing his ERA up from 3.02 before his game against the Giants to 3.91 today.
One (or, in this case, two) bad games do not unmake an ace. But two bad games that leave this looking like Cole Hamels' worst season since 2009 might give the Red Sox a little pause given that he will be 32 before the next season starts. It's not a convincing sign of decline, exactly, but it's another data point, and not a positive one.
More likely, though, we're not even in a world where the Red Sox are seriously considering making a move for Hamels. They are, as mentioned, 42-49 and now eight games back of the first place Yankees. And no, the word "only" does not belong in front of "eight games back." Yes, the Sox could trade for Hamels with an eye towards 2016 and beyond. But prices are higher at the trade deadline than any other time of the year. Ruben Amaro Jr. might well expect a premium over what the Red Sox were willing to give him in the offseason, and even if not, there's no way he's willing to come down on his price in a market with more desperate buyers just because of two bad starts.
Given that the Red Sox weren't willing to pay the price then, they shouldn't be willing to pay it now. They're not in a position where the addition of Hamels pushes them over the top in 2015--at best, it gets them to that hill they don't have the time to surmount--and they will be getting likely the three worst years of what they would have received from an offseason trade.
For those who want to see an end to the years-long Hamels saga, though, there is reason to hope it's at hand. Hamels is a major commodity for those teams still in the hunt for 2015, and there are enough of those to go around. Ruben Amaro Jr. has to know the clock is ticking on this deal, and that his Phillies are not headed for contention anytime soon. Cole Hamels will very likely have a new team by the time July is over. It's just not likely to be the Red Sox.