Source: Don't count Sox out on Hamilton

NASHVILLE -- The Red Sox are monitoring developments with free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton and shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential bidder for his services, a baseball source said Monday.

“They’re the Boston Red Sox, so you shouldn’t rule out anything,’’ the source said.

The market for available free-agent outfielders is beginning to shrink, as the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton last week and on Monday, the San Francisco Giants reportedly reached agreement to re-sign Angel Pagan. Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, is the biggest prize on the market, and is seeking a long-term deal comparable to the highest-paid players in the game.

The Red Sox would not go more than three years for Hamilton, according to another source, but are in a position to lavish big dollars in a short-term deal. The source said the Sox have few concerns about Hamilton, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, being able to handle the lifestyle in Boston, saying wherever Hamilton played a support system would be in place.

One of Hamilton’s best friends is Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

* Also heard in the lobby here: The Red Sox almost certainly will not trade pitcher Jon Lester, but will listen to offers for Saltalamacchia.