The Red Sox have the worst record in the American League, but that won't stop them from trying to upgrade the team for the future at the trade deadline. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark during Thursday night's appearance on Baseball Tonight, the Red Sox are "actively" trying to trade for Cole Hamels, and are discussing the prospect package that would ultimately bring him to Boston.
Now, this doesn't mean the Sox are any closer to Hamels than they were over the winter, but it does confirm that they are still interested in bringing him to the team. It's an understandable position, too: as mentioned, the Sox are awful this season, and a significant part of that is the back-end of the rotation. Clay Buchholz was holding down the top until an elbow injury knocked him out, and Wade Miley has been precisely what Boston thought they were trading for since May began, but Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson were disasters, and Rick Porcello, while not a lost cause, hasn't helped matters with his unfortunate performance.
Adding Hamels to the mix, plugging the fifth spot with either a prospect or a free agent, and then hoping Porcello rebounds could give the Red Sox a high-quality rotation in 2016 and beyond. At the least, it would be a rotation less reliant on the success of Porcello, and would feature fewer unsure things like Masterson and Kelly.
What will Hamels cost, though? The Red Sox have been clear about their desire to avoid moving either Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, but that means essentially everyone else (except Yoan Moncada, given Boston signed him to a record bonus earlier this year) has to be potentially on the board. The Sox can't make everyone untouchable and also expect to get Hamels back -- since they're still talking to the Phillies about him, it's easy to imagine that they are not actually making everyone of interest unavailable. You know, despite what all the snark suggests.
A balance of quantity and quality could get it done, if the Phillies' negotiations with the Dodgers are any indication. Stark reported earlier this week that if the Dodgers held on to top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias, then they would have to give up six of their better prospects to make up for it. The Sox were just ranked by Keith Law as having the best farm system in baseball, so they can afford to give up that kind of quantity (whether the Phillies settle on four or five or mean six when they say six) and still have an array of young talent to look forward to. Also, they would have Cole Hamels, which counts for something.