The Boston Red Sox have sent starting pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
Oakland will also send a competive balance pick to Boston for cash considerations, according to Yahoo SPorts' Jeff Passan.
Rumors had been swirling for a while that the last-place Red Sox could deal their ace, but their intentions were made clear when it was announced Tuesday night that Lester would be scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start, as ESPN's Jim Bowden pointed out:
Lester was also sure to show his appreciation for the support he had gotten with rumors running rampant:
After winning the World Series in 2013, Boston struggled on the field this year, playing to a 48-59 record thus far. More importantly, at least in regard to this trade, the Sox failed to sign Lester to an extension as he approaches free agency. With the season lost and the risk of not being able to re-sign its star pitcher, Boston decided it was time to sell.
In Lester, the A's have obtained a top-of-the-rotation pitcher with an abundance of postseason experience as they make a run at a playoff berth. Lester is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA on the season. In 21 starts Lester has 149 strikeouts, a 2.62 fielding independent pitching (FIP) and a 155 adjusted ERA (ERA+).
In 13 postseason games (11 starts) he is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA and has come away with two shiny World Series rings.
General manager Billy Beane and the A's already pulled off a big trade earlier this season when they landed Chicago Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Now Oakland boasts a rotation led by Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray. They have more than a few solid options to fill out the fifth spot in the rotation going forward.
Gomes on the other hand will provide some pop and versatility to a team that loves to move its lineup around on a day-to-day basis. He has six home runs and 32 RBI this season. He played for Oakland in 2012.
Cespedes is a nice pickup for Boston. The 28-year-old Cuban outfielder is hitting .256 with 17 homers and 67 RBI. He will not be a free agent until after the 2017 season, meaning he will be crushing balls at Fenway Park for at least a few years.
There is also the chance that Lester decides to re-sign with the BoSox in the offseason. He recently said there would be no hard feelings if he were dealt, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com:
We all understand where we're at, we understand it's a business. And (general manager Ben Cherington) and ownership have to do what's right for this organization and if that means whoever it may be is traded for prospects or other guys or whatever, that's just part of the business. We all understand it.
Yeah, why not (in response to whether he could return to Boston)? I mean, (Boston) is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said plenty of times, this is where I want to be. And if they trade me I completely understand. No hard feelings. I know what they have to do for their organization and if that involves me, so be it. If it doesn't I'll keep running out there every five days and pitching.
With Lester likely to hold off on signing a new deal until the winter, the A's may just be renting him for the remainder of the season. Expect the Red Sox to be in the mix when it comes to Lester's free-agent suitors. For now, Oakland has set itself up as a true contender in the American League playoff race.
With this move, the Athletics are not joking around. They already pulled off a blockbuster. They already were one of the best teams in baseball.
If they were not already, the addition of Lester makes the A's World Series favorites.
All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.com.
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