Big trade deadline news. It has been reported that the Boston Red Sox have traded ace lefthander Jon Lester along with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Lester had been engaged in on again, off again contract negotiations with the Red Sox as he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. However, there was no progress. Then Lester said he would be willing to return to the Red Sox as a free agent in 2015. In other words, Lester had been put on the trading block. The Brewers, Marlins, Orioles and Pirates, Dodgers and Cardinals were all hot and heavy for Lester. It reached a fever pitch when Lester was scratched from his scheduled start against the Blue Jays yesterday. The Fenway faithful chanted his name in the ninth inning wanting to say their goodbyes.
So the pitching rich A’s won out. This move comes just over three weeks after the A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. But Hammel has been ineffective going 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA since the trade. So look for Lester to take Hammel’s spot in the rotation. In 21 starts for the Red Sox this season, Lester is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and has won his last four decisions. In all, Lester has won 110 games for the Red Sox since making his big league debut with the team in 2006. Lester is a three time AL All-Star (including this season), has two World Series rings and has survived lymphoma to boot.
This will be Jonny Gomes’ second stint in Oakland. Gomes played for the A’s in 2012 before joining the Red Sox last year. In 78 games with the Red Sox in 2014, Gomes hit .234 with 6 HR and 32 RBI. Good guy to have off the bench.
As for Yoenis Cespedes, he is probably the unhappiest man in MLB. Cespedes, who has won back to back All-Star Game HR Derbys, has gone from the team with the best record in baseball to a team that is in last place in the AL East and has lost 8 of its last 9 games. The free swinging Cespedes does give the Red Sox much needed offense in the outfield. In 101 games, Cespedes hit .256 with 17 HR and 67 RBI and played in his first All-Star Game. But the Cuban defector might quickly wish to defect from Boston.
Although Lester might be back in Boston in 2015, I somehow doubt it. The Red Sox didn’t seem eager to re-sign Lester despite being one of the best left-handers in franchise history. Indeed, only Mel Parnell won more games as a southpaw for the Sox and is ninth on Boston’s all-time win list. While I don’t think Lester will be in Oakland beyond this season I also think this is last we’ve seen of Lester in a Boston uniform and we are the poorer for it.