Report: Sox remain a top contender for Hamels

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With the Red Sox now trailing the Yankees by double digits in the A.L. East, the last thing you'd expect them to be at the trade deadline are buyers.

So it might be a bit of a surprise to some to see ESPN's Jayson Stark report on Wednesday that they're still one of the four likeliest teams to land Hamels before July 31.

No, the Sox wouldn't expect Hamels to lead a late charge towards the postseason . . . not this year, anyways.

But if they do intend on turning this team around in the future, they know they need to start with the pitching staff.

If the thought is that Hamels has the most talent available before the 2016 season begins, or if he's a pitcher the Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is very interested in for a price he's willing to pay, it makes sense that they'd still be in the running. Yes, Hamels is 31 years old, but the majority of bigger-name free agent starting pitchers in the 2015-16 class is also in their 30's, many of which have less talent than Hamels. As we know, Sox ownership has a thing against giving 30-plus-year-old pitchers big deals.

The Sox made trades last year with the idea that the players they would be getting back would be big contributors in 2015. They were wrong, of course, because Joe Kelly hasn't had a good season and Allen Craig has spent the majority of it toiling away in Pawtucket. The Sox also signed Rusney Castillo during last season's basement-dwelling months with an eye on 2015. He, too, has spent most of the season in Pawtucket.

The point is, though, the Sox must now realize that they can't go into next season without bringing on an ace, and the fact that one is on the market is going to pique their interest regardless of when.

The real question remains: Which prospects are they willing to part with? Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts surely wouldn't be included in a deal for Hamels. Last week, we highlighted 10 of the Sox top prospects and how they're performing at the break.

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