The Red Sox have been dangling Jon Lester since the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension. His fate was likely sealed when the team decided to scratch him from his start Wednesday.
On the morning of the MLB trade deadline, the Red Sox sent their longtime ace Lester to the Oakland A’s in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to multiple reports.
Boston also included Jonny Gomes and money in the deal.
The trade: lester plus gomes plus $ for cespedes and competitive balance pick
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2014
The deal is done. Here are things to know about Lester becoming a member of the Oakland A’s:
1. This is probably just a rental
Lester is under contract through the end of the 2014 season after contract talks with the Red Sox stalled over the spring and again this past month. At 30 years old, Lester owns a 10-7 mark — on a bad team — with a 2.52 ERA with 149 strikeouts in 21 starts.
He has a track record of winning big games, and was a key cog in the Sox’s 2007 and 2013 World Series runs.
It seems unlikely Oakland will be able to sign Lester to a long-term deal, and is probably just using him as a rental as Oakland goes for the World Series this year.
2. A’s battery of arms
This is not the Athletics’ first move this season. Earlier this summer, the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs to bolster a starting rotation that already included Scott Kazmir, who owns the sixth-best ERA in baseball, and Sonny Gray, one of the game’s most promising young arms.
Like champions of year’s past, the A’s starting staff now goes five-deep, which means it’s unlikely any other team — especially in the American League — can match up as well in a five- or seven-game playoff series.
3. The loss of Cespedes
Oakland’s left fielder was batting .256 with 17 home runs, 67 RBI, and a .452 slugging percentage while batting in the 5-hole this season. He’s the two-time defending Home Run Derby champion.
Cespedes held the team lead with 102 hits on the season, and was second on the team with 62 runs and 26 doubles.
Now Brandon Moss is the favorite among in-house candidates to play left field, but the team also has Gomes to consider. Moss is batting .259 with 23 dingers and 72 RBI, despite lingering injuries.
Gomes, who played in Oakland in 2012, owns a .234 batting average with six homers and 32 RBI as a reserve.
4. Big-game Jon
The A’s are gearing not for an American League pennant, but a World Series run and they needed a veteran to lead the way.
Lester has been a part of the Red Sox’s last two World Series clubs. He owns a career 2.11 ERA in 11 games started in the postseason, with a 1.93 ERA and 1.56 ERA during Boston’s two championship runs.
He’ll be a much-welcomed veteran presence for Kazmir, Samardzija, Gray, and Hammel, whose playoff experience pales in comparison to his.
5. Shift of power
The A’s have historically been knocked out of the postseason in the first- or second-rounds, and the team has to keep pace with the Los Angeles Angels, who sit just 2.5 games back of the Athletics for the AL West lead.
The addition of Lester gives Oakland a strong chance at winning that fifth game, helping to distance the team from surging Los Angeles to get to the playoffs. And once in the postseason, Oakland can count on Lester as a the top-of-the-rotation guy, if not a rock solid No. 2 who can also come back and pitch on short rest.