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The Red Sox are expected to deal Jon Lester and the Pirates are a “dark horse”

Jul 29, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

Jon Lester AP AP

Jon Lester‘s name has been out there for a long time, but today there seems to be a consensus forming that the Red Sox will absolutely trade Jon Lester before Thursday’s trade deadline. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan says “sentiment among competing executives is unanimous” that the Red Sox will deal him. Many other reporters are echoing that sentiment.

There are a ton of teams who could use Lester, but the Pirates are being mentioned as a “dark horse.” Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo note that the Pirates could use an ace as much as anyone — they’re in a 3-4 team dogfight for the NL Central — but that they have a deep farm system and that prospect outfielder Josh Bell is “at the center” of talks.

If that doesn’t work the Dodgers, Brewers, Blue Jays and Orioles are candidates. While the latter teams are in the AL East with the Sox, Boston could probably deal with that and could probably safely assume Lester would test the free agent market following the season thereby not being a pain to his old mates several times a year if dealt to Baltimore or Toronto.

  1. [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Is a “dar horse” what you get after you are done beating a dead one?

    • flyinhighwithvick - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      No, a “dar horse” is one that you can lead to water AND make him drink!

    • pbastille - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      It was Ellen Hardin Walworth before she lost all that weight…

    • shawndc04 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      No, it’s a stallion that services a Daughter of the American Revolution.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      The headline was hilarious before Craig corrected it.

    • tmc602014 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      A “Dar Horse” is one of the Beastmaster’s pets…

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      It’s sabermetric: Distance Above Replacement.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      Option 2: Craig meant to type “Derp horse.”

  2. chip56 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    That would be phenomenal for Lester – he would enter free agency after this season not only as the top arm on the market but teams wouldn’t be required to forfeit a draft pick if they sign him.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      Is that true? For example, the Red Sox would not be required to forfeit a draft pick to (re-)sign him?

      That has to weigh into the Sox’ calculus, doesn’t it?

      • paperlions - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        You only have to forfeit a pick if a guy turned down a QO. Teams can now only make QOs to players that were on their roster all year long. If Lester is traded, no one can make him the QO.

        If the RS keep him, they can make him a QO and get a comp pick if they lose him….so you have to figure that they will only trade him if they get something worth more than that pick….like Josh Bell.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        It’s hard to see what Joshua Bell can bring to the Red Sox. Keith Lockhart can definitely use the guy.

        (Note: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html)

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        @18th … I figured you were talking about THAT Joshua Bell, the 10-WAR violinist, even before I clicked the link.

      • chip56 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:48 PM

        Yup, if a player is traded mid-season the team that gets him may not make him a qualifying offer. It’s why the Rangers couldn’t make Matt Garza a qualifying offer this past winter.

    • scatterbrian - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Depends on whether or not the acquiring team offers Lester a QO.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        You can only offer QO’s to players that were on your roster since day 1. So the Sox can’t offer Drew one, and the Yanks can’t offer Headley one either.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        So … the Red Sox keep keep and get a draft pick when he leaves.

        Or they trade him and get [something good], and no one gets a draft pick. Ben whatever team that signs him as a free agent is willing to pay more than they would have because they don’t have to forfeit a draft pick. Which would be good for Lester, as well, because money can be used to buy goods and services.

        Huh.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        Ben whatever team that signs him as a free agent is willing to pay more than they would have because they don’t have to forfeit a draft pick.

        Or they might pay less because they can’t QO Lester after the season. They have no way of keeping him, unless he accepts a contract extension as part of the trade.

      • chip56 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        By rule they can’t do that.

  3. chip56 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    safely assume Lester would test the free agent market following the season thereby not being a pain to his old mates several times a year if dealt to Baltimore or Toronto.

    I mean it’s possible that if he isn’t traded he could wind up signing with Baltimore, Toronto (or the Yankees) and torment Boston for years. What AL East teams are going to worry about is that the pieces they trade to Boston for Lester will wind up making Boston better for the next 3 or 5 years.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      I actually doubt that he (or Price) will get moved. With Price, Tampa’s that far back in the race.

      With Lester? The asking price. Per the Yahoo piece:

      The Red Sox continue to ask for an exceedingly high return considering Lester will be a free agent this offseason, sources said, targeting multiple high-end prospects in exchange for what amounts to a rental.

      Yep.

      That said, before Tampa clawed its way back, Friedman was asking too much for Price, too.

  4. tfbuckfutter - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    One of the few teams I would like to actually root for if he’s traded there.

    This would be nice. Although are we sure we want to move him for a quality prospect and not for a broken down player with a $20,000,000 a year contract?

    • 18thstreet - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Thumbs down because you think the Red Sox would take on $20 million a year worth of Matt Kemp. Preposterous.

      You just hate the team.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Thumbs down because you don’t get sarcasm and don’t know specifically who that comment was subtly directed at but still felt the need to respond.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        Yes, because a group message board is the right place to subtly direct a comment to an individual.

        You know the rest of us can read what you write, right? I mean, I try not to, but it’s right there.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        You could try harder.

        Or you could recognize I couldn’t care less about your opinion or your pitiful thumb job and stop going to the effort of responding. You’d probably be a much happier person if you didn’t let me get under your skin so easily. Especially when I hardly ever even acknowledge you.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        I halfway gathered the sarcasm; tis true that Kemp’s not “broken down.”

  5. penguins87and71 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    If the Pirates wanted to get Lester, they probably could. There farm system is ranked in the top 5 in the MLB, they have the prospects, are they willing to give them up?

    • ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      I would hate to see them do this – there’s no way Lester re-signs with the Pirates. Trade Josh Bell for a 2 month rental? Insanity.

  6. drewsylvania - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    As a Sox fan, I really like the idea. Lester has almost always been a B+ starter–someone you want in your rotation, but not quite the mega-ace everyone wants. This year, he’s gone gangbusters–yet you can throw in the usual contract-year caveat, as well as the fact that David Ross is apparently making Lester look much better via superior pitch-framing.

    Trade him while his value won’t be higher, get a bevy of prospects back, then see if he wants to come back as a free agent. This has the chance to be a total win for the Red Sox.

  7. jrob23 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    it would take more than Bell. Taillon is more likely the centerpiece of any trade with Bell as a throw in.

    • zico25 - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      Get real, you’d get one or the other at most in a dream scenario. Pirates are frugal, both with cash and prospects. Stop over-valuing 2-months of Lester.

  8. papajack1259 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    If the pirates made the big dance it would be well worth it. They need a Pennant!

    • ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:19 PM

      no, not really. They’ve slowly (God, 20 years!) worked on building a farm system, scouting, development. Makes zero sense to give away two top prospects for a 2 month rental of Lester, even if it gets them a pennant. Are we good enough to win a W.S. WITH Lester? No guarantees either.

  9. irishlad19 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    The Sox need OF power hitting, and the team that gives them that should win the auction.

  10. kev86 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    I heard Red sox like Mets prospects and the Mets think they can sign Lester. He is lefty which Mets need and provides veteran leadership short and long term.

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