It's all happening.
With the MLB trade deadline fast approaching, deals are coming in left and right and the rumors are even more plentiful than that. As is often the case the case this time of year, the biggest names being bandied about are that of ace pitchers, but the market is rife with talented players potentially making a move.
Perhaps no player is attracting more attention than Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Gordon Edes of ESPN has more on the interest surrounding Lester:
A major league source with knowledge of Boston’s discussions said Monday night it is still 'less than 50-50' that the Red Sox trade Lester, based on discussions to date. The same holds true, the source said, for lefty reliever Andrew Miller, although he expects that the offers for both pitchers will be sweetened as Thursday's trade deadline draws closer.
The Red Sox are now actively engaged in determining what kind of return they could get in a Lester deal. They have had discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers, they have been in contact with the St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners, and there was a report that they fielded an inquiry from the Baltimore Orioles, though it’s highly unlikely they’d move Lester within the division.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Milwaukee Brewers are also interested in acquiring Lester. And Sean McAdam of CSNNE adds that the Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays are all in the market for Lester.
Reports had emerged that the Red Sox weren't pleased with Lester's demands in contract-extension talks and thus put him on the trade market, though the pitcher's agent denied them, per Edes:
'The discussions we had with the Red Sox were confidential and will remain that way,' Seth Levinson, Lester's agent, wrote in an email Tuesday. 'There is no truth to the report, and I am not going to guess why it was written or the basis for that report.'
The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that the Red Sox had been informed of what kind of contract the pitcher has been seeking, 'and that led to the team putting its ace on the trade market.' The story, citing a major league source, went on to say that Lester was seeking 'a competitive offer consistent with the market' and speculated that would be in the range of $22 million to $24 million annually.
Given the way Lester has pitched this year, it's not hard to see why he might want to be paid the big bucks. The slinger is currently 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and has recorded 149 strikeouts in 143.0 innings pitched. And with the Red Sox 11 games out of first place in the AL East and 8.5 games back in the wild-card hunt, it makes sense to at least shop their ace.
Plus, Lester is 30 years old, perhaps giving the Sox pause when they consider signing him to a high-priced, long-term extension. One would guess the preference would be to re-sign Lester, and that seems more likely than the Sox trading him. The safe bet is him remaining in Boston.
But if they are blown away with an offer, well, that could change quickly.
Lester isn't the only attractive ace on the market. The Philadelphia Phillies could be enticed to move lefty Cole Hamels, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports:
Sources: Phillies have made Cole Hamels available on trade market, although price remains high. Dodgers interested. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2014
Frankly, it's been a bit surprising the Phillies haven't had their fire sale already. The team is 12.5 games back in the NL East, 11 games back in the wild-card race and has a roster full of high-priced veterans who could help a contender and bring back a nice haul of prospects for the team. Morosi has two such players who could depart Philadelphia:
Pirates showing interest in Phillies LHP Antonio Bastardo and OF Marlon Byrd, sources say. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2014
But nobody would garner a bigger price than Hamels.
Like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, however, Hamels is a life-long member of the organization, and fans of the club might find it hard to let him go, even if a slew of talented young players came back to Philly. One would guess the fire sale in Philly would have already begun if it was going to happen so for now, the safe money would suggest that Hamels would stick around.
Players like Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo or A.J. Burnett, however? Don't be shocked if all are moved.
While there are big names remaining on the trade market, the team that seems the most likely to make a big splash is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has more:
Maybe it goes without saying, but sources say the #Dodgers are investigating every top available starter - Price, Lester, Hamels, Lackey.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2014
Adds Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
Feels like every executive I talk to says they think #Dodgers will get a SP and could go big for Hamels or Lester— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 28, 2014
The Dodgers are currently 2.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West and have the best record in the National League, but they won't want to rest on their laurels. Adding another ace to a rotation that already included Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke would make them truly formidable.
Hamels and Lester will cost a huge price, while John Lackey has revitalized his career in Boston but might not be the big fish the Dodgers are trying to lure. That leaves David Price. The Tampa Bay Rays hurler is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 183 strikeouts in 163.2 innings pitched, and he's also postseason tested.
On the other hand, the Rays are back in the wild-card chase, likely inflating Price's, um, price.
Still, a top three of Kershaw, Greinke and Price would be truly scary for the rest of the National League. If the Dodgers are willing to be buyers and aren't afraid to overpay, Price could be on the way. More than likely, they'll end up with a second-tier option like Lackey. It's going to be a busy couple of days in LA, that much is for certain.