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Trade deadline: Jon Lester to Oakland, Yoenis Cespedes to Boston

Trade deadline day started in a big way, with huge names switching coasts. We break down the fantasy implications.

Jared Wickerham

Jon Lester getting traded wasn't a surprise; every baseball writer worth his or her salt was expecting him to get dealt before Thursday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. Oakland was a candidate for his services, as were St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and a cast of thousands.

So the actual news that Lester was traded felt inevitable and expected. Expected, that is, until the actual component parts of the trade came down -- and then the surprise came.

Lester was traded, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash, to the Oakland Athletics ... for Yoenis Cespedes. (And a competitive balance pick, but if you want fantasy analysis on that, go away, man, you're too needy.)

That was the surprise. Cespedes, a big-time star in Oakland after a strong rookie year and back-to-back Home Run Derby championships, hadn't shown up in any real rumors before Thursday. Him moving in any deal is a surprise.

Which is not to say it should have been a surprise, necessarily. Cespedes' fame has overshadowed his actual production in the last couple years -- after a .292/.356/.505 slash line in his rookie year, he's hit to a .247/.298/.452 line in the year and a half since. Cespedes still has power, a great arm, and a big name, but he wasn't the superstar some saw him as.

Lester, meanwhile, is in the midst of his best season as a big-leaguer. The impending free agent is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 143 innings this season. A pitcher with those stats in Boston will pitch like a super-Kershaw in Oakland's park ... theoretically. It's hard to imagine Jon Lester has become a new pitcher at 30 years old and, while the peripherals largely back what Lester has done (2.62 FIP, 3.03 xFIP), I'm not sold on his first half being his new baseline.

Meanwhile, Jonny Gomes returns to Oakland. He's already the A's-iest player in the world. He's an uber-platoon player (crushes lefties, non-existent against righties) who ends up overlooked as a result. Oakland, meanwhile, is either the most or second-most platoon-friendly team in baseball (maybe Tampa, maybe Oakland), meaning they're as likely as anyone to figure out the best way to utilize Gomes. Maybe he pairs with Billy Burns while the young speedster is in the big leagues, or with catcher/outfielder Stephen Vogt, or with also-reacquired Sam Fuld as a left field platoon. Regardless, Jonny Gomes playing only against lefties makes a lot of sense.

And though Cespedes' star power has dimmed a bit (Home Run Derby aside), moving to Fenway will help him rebuild some of that. He's hit nine fly balls in Oakland this year that would have left Fenway, and the Red Sox have a desperate need for some power out of their outfielders.

All three guys in the trade see their value rise Thursday, though their usage shouldn't change much -- Lester was already a must-start, Cespedes was already a regular outfielder, and it's hard to trust Gomes on a day-to-day basis.

With Lester gone from the Boston rotation, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa both now have regular jobs as Red Sox starters. Meanwhile, his addition to Oakland's rotation means someone gets bumped. Odds are it'll be Jesse Chavez, who has pitched significantly worse since his hot start to the season, but new Athletic Jason Hammel has also been awful since joining Oakland. Neither is relevant in fantasy right now.