Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is almost here, and Cole Hamels still is pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies.

There’s a good chance that could change before July 31, as several teams have emerged as favorites to nab the left-handed ace. According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Boston Red Sox are among them.

The feeling among MLB clubs is that the Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers are the teams most likely to earn Hamels’ services if the Phillies decide to deal him, Stark wrote Wednesday.

Boston might seem an odd destination for Hamels, considering the team has dropped to 10 games out of first place in the American League East and could be a seller heading into the trade deadline. According to one executive, though, the Red Sox’s motives in targeting Hamels might be focused more on the long term.

“If they finish last, that would be three out of four years of last-place finishes,” the executive told Stark, via ESPN.com. “So I can’t see them buying to try to get back in it this year. But think of the urgency for next year.”

Another executive told Stark the Red Sox have “the most pieces to make this deal of anyone.” Still, it remains to be seen what Boston would be willing to part with to bring in the 31-year-old, especially if it’s not chasing a pennant this season. The Dodgers, Cubs and Rangers all are intriguing options for Hamels as well, and there’s still the possibility he stays put in Philly.

There are a number of factors at play in the race for Hamels, and the Red Sox are by no means a runaway favorite. But it appears they’re not out of the hunt, either.

“… Anyone counting out the Red Sox is misreading the tea leaves,” Stark wrote.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images