Source: 'A lot in play' as deadline nears

BOSTON -- With the trade deadline beckoning and Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry lamenting a two-game swing in the standings after a tough 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay Monday night, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and his top aides worked deep into the night, with “a lot still in play,” according to one baseball source.

The Red Sox remain engaged with the White Sox in talks for pitcher Jake Peavy and the Phillies for pitcher Cliff Lee, although the returns sought by both Chicago and Philadelphia so far have remained too high for Boston to consummate a deal for either one.

Both the White Sox and Phillies are said to be seeking three top prospects back in a deal -- “[Will] Middlebrooks, for starters,’’ one baseball source said in regard to the Peavy talks -- while both Peavy and Lee also have significant financial components.

Peavy is due $14.5 million next season, while Lee has roughly $8 million left for this season, $25 million in both 2014 and 2015, and a $12.5 million buyout if a club option is not exercised in 2016. The Sox will take on money or give up players (but have their limits there), but it will be highly unlikely they’d be willing to do both.

Cherington gathered his top aides, which include Mike Hazen, Dave Finley, Allard Baird and Eddie Bane, in Boston for meetings on Monday, and to continue to work the phones. The team’s owners -- Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino -- who played a key role in engineering last August’s blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, also are closely monitoring developments.

The Red Sox also are known to be seeking relief help. On Monday, two AL teams bidding for postseason spots made moves to strengthen their bullpens, the Rays acquiring Jesse Crain from the White Sox, the Tigers acquiring closer Jose Veras from the Astros.

And the club also may be looking to add an extra bat, especially on the left side of the infield, where third baseman Jose Iglesias has fallen into a prolonged slump.

The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Sox also could revisit talks during the waiver period, which is when they made last August’s megadeal with the Dodgers. Last season, the Phillies placed Lee on waivers, with the Dodgers making a claim, but the Phillies pulled him back when they could not strike a deal.

One baseball source, referring to the Peavy talks, said the White Sox are hoping to score the kind of package the Milwaukee Brewers got last year from the Angels for Zack Greinke: shortstop Jean Segura, a leading candidate to be the NL Rookie of the Year; top pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg; and a third prospect, pitcher Ariel Pena.

There is time for the teams to strike a deal both would consider fair, so the Red Sox remain very much in play for the right-hander.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, meanwhile, said the Red Sox are no longer in on right-handed hitting infielder Michael Young.