MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Red Sox deal Jon Lester?

Jared Wickerham

Ray takes a look at the possibility that the Red Sox deal ace Jon Lester at the trade deadline.

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Back in March, the Red Sox made an offer to ace starter Jon Lester that I considered to be a real low-ball offer. Considering the fact that Lester just helped them win a World Series, I was shocked that the Red Sox made him a 4 year, $70 million offer. Four years for $70 million works out to $18.5 million per year. Considering the fact that free agents are getting qualifying offers around $14 million, and it is expected to rise in the offseason, the Red Sox offer to Lester seemed very low to me. The guy just helped them win a World Series and they don't even offer him Homer Bailey money? Bailey signed a 6 year, $105 million deal with the Reds in the offseason, and he has yet to win a playoff game. Lester has six post season wins and a 2.11 career ERA in the postseason.

And the Red Sox offered him a four year deal for $70 million??

It was reported in late June  that the Red Sox had re-engaged Lester's agent on a contract extension, but that was later denied by Lester himself, according to a June 30th Buster Olney piece:

Sources say Boston has upgraded its offer to Lester, but after Sunday's 8-5 win over the New York Yankees, Lester denied that the Red Sox have resumed contract talks with the left-hander.

"There has been no offer, there have been no new talks,'' Lester said. "I've been talking to [general manager] Ben [Cherington] all along, but that's nothing new. There is no new offer.

"I don't think they've started anything. I know there's been conversation throughout the season, just different topics. ... Nothing about contract, numbers, anything like that.''

It appears the Sox don't want to give a long term contract to the 30 year old starter. For his career, Lester has five 200+ innings seasons, and he is well on his way to his sixth this season. He also threw 191 innings in 2011, and has over 1,500 career innings on his left arm, and they may be weary that he could break down soon after they sign him.

Olney later appeared on the WEII radio show on July 2nd, and here is an excerpt from that conversation:

Olney continued: "€œThere is a level of frustration on Lester'€™s side, and I don'€™t know if it's Jon himself or people around him, because I'€ve never been around a negotiation that'€™s gotten more tension attention* from other players on the team than this Lester talks. The frustration level of the other guys on this team on how this has played out is at a 9.5 out of 10, because they don'€™t get it."

Add in the fact that there aren't many ace starters in the free agent market this offseason, and Lester may actually WANT to test free agency. Who could blame him? He is having the best season of his career, as his ERA, FIP and WHIP are at career lows.

So, what are the Red Sox to do? Well, they could explore trading him to one of the many teams that are still in playoff contention. Who are the teams who could have interest in him? I imagine most teams would have interest in dealing for him, but do they have young talent or a player that fills a Red Sox need?

The Red Sox have several needs, most notably a power hitter, and preferably a power hitting outfileder. Their infield is pretty much set for next season, with Mike Napoli at first base, Christian Vasquez at catcher, Dustin Pedroia at second base, Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks/Brock Holt at third base. Right now, Holt is playing in the outfield, but his regular position is shortstop and second base. He played more shortstop and second base in the minors than third base. Actually, he has never played in the outfield before this season in the big leagues.

The Dodgers could make sense, but it was reported this weekend that they will not be dealing any top prospects at the trade deadline. The Giants could get involved, but they don't have power hitting prospects in the minors, but do have some pitching.

The Cardinals have a stocked farm system of arms that they could deal for Lester, and they probably make really good trade partners as a result. They also have some outfield prospects, Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk, who could interest the Red Sox as well. I don't see the Braves or Nationals dealing from their farm system for Lester, as both teams appear to be pretty much set in their rotations right now, although the Braves could look to deal one of their young arms, Alex Wood or Lucas Sims, for Lester.

The only American League team I could see dealing for Lester is the Angels but their farm system isn't that stocked right now, so they would probably have to deal someone like C.J. Cron in any Lester deal.

Did I miss any teams that could show interest, and have the talent, to deal for Lester?

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