While the New York Yankees are the reported front runners to trade for Lance Berkman, the Red Sox still called the Houston Astros to check in on the slumping slugger’s availability, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Multiple reports indicate that Berkman, who’s hitting just .245 with 13 homers this season, could end up in the Bronx if the Astros are willing to accept minimal or no prospects in return. Certainly, having the likes of Lance Berkman on one’s bench seems much more Yankee than Red Sox, but stranger things have happened.

Still, since Houston appears to be attempting a pure salary dump, the Red Sox are unlikely to be seriously interested. Aside from the obvious logjam at both first base and designated hitter that a Berkman acquisition would create, the Red Sox are already over the luxury tax this season and are probably far less willing than the Yankees to further extend themselves financially, particularly for a waning slugger.

As always, Theo Epstein simply appears to be doing his due diligence in leaving no stone unturned at the 2010 trade deadline.

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