Would the Sox really trade Lester?
I understand the Boston Red Sox need to consider almost every possible trade scenario available to them.
But according to this report from Bob Dutton at the Kansas City Star, discussing a potential trade of Jon Lester for top Royals prospect Wil Myers, I am really beginning to wonder if Sox general manager Ben Cherington believes this team can compete in 2013.
The Red Sox need to be adding pitching right now, and trading Lester when the team is already lacking two starters and a closer doesn't make a lot of sense.
Lester had a rough 2012 season, and that, coupled with a poor end to the 2011 season, is certainly enough to raise the red flags of concern.
Does he seem like the guy that won 19 games as recently as 2010? No. He also doesn't seem like he is on the verge of greatness like everyone predicted for him after that campaign.
Lester is still only 28 and under team control for another two seasons. His career record of 85-48 speaks to his history of success and he has averaged roughly 200 innings per season since joining the rotation full time in 2008.
WEEI's Rob Bradford confirms that the teams have talked and the deal could potentially be built around Lester and Myers with additional players involved.
I guess this is going to be the bizzaro winter of 2012. The Rays are signing players to $100 million extensions; the Blue Jays are making mega-trades, taking on payroll and going into a win-now mode; the Yankees and Orioles are the class of the division having just succeeded in making the playoffs.
Should the Sox trade Lester?
And the Red Sox? They're talking about trading their ace to the Royals for a top prospect. This is normally the type of deal the Sox would be making in reverse to steal another team's star player.
It also calls into question the Red Sox's decision to hire John Farrell. One of the key components to the hire was Farrell's ability to come in and make an immediate impact with his old protege Lester.
If the Sox wanted to trade Lester after next year? Fine, he would have had a full season under John Farrell to work out his mechanical issues and get back to his All-Star form.
Part of Lester's struggles may have simply been the transition away from Jason Varitek to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, something the club may have admitted by signing David Ross, a catcher known for his defense and running a pitching staff.
This is nothing against Myers, universally considered to be a can't-miss prospect. Myers would fill a long-term need for Boston, but the Sox have plenty of prospects in the minors and the seventh overall pick in the upcoming June 2013 draft.
Right now the Sox need to be adding quality arms to their team for the 2013, not subtracting one of the few dependable pitchers they currently have under contract.
This trade doesn't make a lot of sense for next season, unless this is a tacit acknowledgement by the Red Sox ownership that the team will be rebuilding in 2013 and focusing on the next wave of Sox talent.
Hopefully the Sox have higher hopes for the 2013 squad.
Statistic used from Baseball Reference.