Jon Lester Trade Rumors: 6 Teams with the Chips to Pry Ace Away from Red Sox

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2012

Jon Lester Trade Rumors: 6 Teams with the Chips to Pry Ace Away from Red Sox

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    The trades are coming, the trades are coming!

    Okay, so that's not what Paul Revere said on his famous midnight ride back in 1775, but Boston could definitely be gearing up for trades, and not in a good way.

    On Saturday, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reported that the Atlanta Braves had made inquiries with the Boston Red Sox regarding the status of left-handed pitcher Jon Lester.

    Lester was rocked by the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon, giving up a whopping 11 runs on nine hits in just four innings, giving him a record of 5-8 and a 5.46 ERA.

    Lester is not injured, nor is he going through any major mechanical issues.

    The Braves probably figured out exactly what Lester needs—a change of scenery.

    After last year's epic September collapse and the ensuing media firestorm surrounding the various issues in the clubhouse, two of the players at the epicenter of the clubhouse scandal—Lester and fellow starter Josh Beckett—have largely struggled throughout the season.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    With the Red Sox wallowing in last place with a 48-48 record and 9.5 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East, this may just be the right time for GM Ben Cherington to explore trade options for Lester, and really start the process of making needed changes in the Red Sox clubhouse.

    Think about it for a minute. If you're Jon Lester and you're having to deal with the fallout from last season, wouldn't that affect your performance?

    Damn straight it would.

    This is the right time for Cherington to entertain offers, and here are six MLB teams who have the chips to pull off a deal.

Atlanta Braves

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    As noted in the introductory slide, the Atlanta Braves have already made an inquiry into the status of Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher Jon Lester.

    The Braves certainly have the chips to pull off a deal—Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin and Arodys Vizcaino, just to name a few.

    In addition, Lester has a team-friendly five-year, $30 million deal that ends in 2013 with a team option for $13 million for 2014. Definitely an affordable deal in today's market.

Chicago Cubs

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    How about this for a blockbuster—Jon Lester for Ryan Dempster?

    There would have to be other moving parts involved in this, but the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have already been involved in several deals since Theo Epstein's departure from Boston to the North Side.

    If the Red Sox are indeed sellers like the Cubs, it's likely this deal would never happen. However, Lester is only 28-years-old, is signed to an affordable contract and could serve as an anchor at the top of the Cubs' rotation as they continue to develop younger players.

    The deal might sound counter-intuitive, as the Cubs will be loathe to give up any prospects, but it at least sounds intriguing.

Detroit Tigers

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    The Detroit Tigers have already taken over first place in the American League Central Division with their weekend sweep of the Chicago White Sox. And, they've done it, in large part, with a rotation, beyond ace Justin Verlander, that simply hasn't been very good.

    Doug Fister is rounding back into shape, but Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are still question marks. Drew Smyly is still developing and Jacob Turner has seen three starts with mixed results.

    The Tigers have been searching for starting pitching, with the team being tied to Matt Garza, Jason Vargas and James Shields in recent weeks.

    Jon Lester's stuff would play well at spacious Comerica Park, and the Tigers do have chips beyond the untouchable Nick Castellanos (Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby, Alex Burgos) that they could dangle out there for the Sox.

Los Angeles Angels

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    The Los Angeles Angels are another team in the market for starting pitching, having been tied in recent weeks to starters James Shields, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke and others.

    While Angels owner Arte Moreno would no doubt love to add an impact starter, he probably doesn't relish the thought of adding on even more payroll to an already high $154 million.

    Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester would definitely be an affordable option, especially if Angels GM Jerry DiPoto declines the 2013 option on Ervin Santana's contract which calls for $13 million.

    The Angels are not blessed with a wealth of top-tier chips in their system beyond shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Garrett Richards, so DiPoto would likely have to be creative in any deal.

    Catcher Hank Conger, center fielder Peter Bourjos and even designated hitter Kendrys Morales could be dangled out there by the Angels to attract what they need.

    For the Angels to match up with the Red Sox, it may require the involvement of a third team in the deal.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Another team in Southern California would love to bolster their starting pitching—the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Already rumored to be going after the likes of Cole Hamels and Matt Garza, the Dodgers could look at Lester as a more affordable option.

    The Dodgers are loaded with pitching in their system (Allen Webster, Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Garrett Gould), so the chips are definitely there.

Seattle Mariners

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    Jon Lester was born in Tacoma, WA and was a high school standout there before being drafted by the Red Sox in 2002.

    Making a deal with the Seattle Mariners would bring Lester back home.

    This is a deal that would be unlikely, however. The M's will likely be selling, not buying. In addition, they won't be giving up any of their top pitching prospects (Danny Hultzen, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker) in any trade scenario.

    The only way Lester returns to the Northwest would be in a multi-team deal.