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The Lester trade is a win-win

Jul 31, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

I’m seeing a lot of people criticizing the Red Sox’ end of the Jon Lester trade. Saying that they wished they got more for him than Yoenis Cespedes. Prospects, perhaps. Hitters with more team control, as Cespedes is a free agent after 2015. Frankly, I think that’s wrong. I think this is a win-win trade.

For Oakland, it makes perfect sense. They are a legitimate World Series contender and when you’re a legitimate World Series contender, you do what you need to do. Adding one of the best starting pitchers in baseball is one of those things you do if the opportunity presents itself. Giving up a season and a half of a good but by no means indispensable outfielder like Cespedes is not a hard price to pay.

It’s more complicated for Boston, obviously, but it all comes down to what you think of the Red Sox’ chances to contend in 2015. If you think they’re sunk and need to rebuild, sure, you lament the fact that you didn’t get prospects. I don’t think that’s the case however. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to think they’ll bounce back in 2015 and adding Cespedes to what has been a troublesomely non-productive outfield is a big boost in that regard. No, he was not indispensable in Oakland, but he’s coming to a good hitters park in Boston and represents a solid upgrade. On defense too, where he will be paired in the outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr., giving the Sox some awesome D in the outfield.

The biggest question, obviously, is what Boston will do for pitching next year, especially if they trade John Lackey too, which is rumored. Well, I don’t know. But there’s no reason they can’t bid on Lester when he walks in free agency from Oakland (remember the A’s can’t give him a qualifying offer since he hasn’t been with the team all season). And the fact is, in this day and age it’s easier to add pitching in the offseason than it is to add a big bat. The Sox just added their big bat.

So don’t cry, anyone. This is a win-win.

113 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. paco53 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    I am a National League guy sitting in the middle of the country. In this day and age, pitching is easier to get than hitting. The Reds have 5 studs in their rotation and cannot hit their way out of a paper bag. I think the A’s traded themselves out of a World Series.

  2. irishlad19 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    The Sox got:
    Proven MLB power hitter
    OF help
    An opportunity to resign Lester this winter
    An opportunity to resign Cespedes in 2015

    What’s not to like?

    • sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      More prospects for a guy who has a higher WAR than Kershaw.

      • ewyorksockexchange - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Except that Lester is a rental, and that Kershaw is 4 years younger and locked up until 2020. And I dunno where your WAR stats are coming from, but the ones I’m looking at (BBref) have Kershaw higher than Lester every year since 2010, by fairly healthy margins.

      • sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=2036,4930,1943,3254,14444,4897

      • kevinbnyc - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Lester fairly well torpedoed his trade value when he said he wanted to come back to Boston even if they traded him. That tends to limit the ability of a team – especially a penny-pinching team like the As – to keep him for more than 2 months after trading for him.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        @Saba .. eliminate the innings differential due to Kershaw starting the season on the DL. Kershaw’s well ahead.

        Nice try, but, wrong!

    • playball - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Watching Lester pitch for the rest of the season for the Red Sox.
      Seeing Gomes play baseball for the Red Sox.

      Even if the Gomes and Lester are not in Red Sox uniforms next year, I’d have liked
      to have the year ended with the team we have. The white flag has already been
      waved and we have a great group of guys. I would have loved to have kept many
      of the guys. The ones from last year, I would have let ride out the last days together.

      The front office has also lifted the jersey that Lester hoped to wear for a lifetime off of him.
      I think we’ve seen his last days in a RS uni.

      And rebuilding for April 2015? They should have worried about 2014 last year and kept at it this year
      when they still had time.

      • irishlad19 - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        I understand the angst, but it was time to act, it was getting painful to watch their inability to generate offense. Cespedes is a good addition.
        There will be a lot more new faces by Spring Training.

  3. APBA Guy - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Marcus Thompson in the Merc got this one exactly right:

    “Cespedes has never really fit the A’s style of play. His on-base percentage (.303) was 12th-best on the A’s. His slugging was seventh (.767). He’s batting .256 while ranking third in home runs and RBI. Both Donaldson and Brandon Moss are providing more run production. And only Cespedes was making $15 million. He never quite regained his production from his rookie season.

    This is an easily criticizable trade. The A’s gave up a position player. They took power out of the middle of the lineup. And they did it to rent a guy they can’t afford. Risky is an understatement.”

  4. jgreiner9 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Boston’s rotation will need some help next year. Just traded Lackey to the Cards.

  5. jrob23 - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Great article. Add Kelly and Craig (either may be dealt who knows?) as well and they are already loaded for next season. They will need pitching and maybe they have an understanding with Lester but if not they’ll need to bring up their young guys stat to see where they are at or trade some of their young positional players. In Cherington we trust!

    • sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      You spelled “Lucchino” wrong.

  6. jgreiner9 - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Craig has declined and his OPS is .637, batting .237 and still owed $25 mil. Kelly doesn’t exactly scream top of the rotation AL starter either.

  7. yahmule - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    The A’s gave up too much offense and Sam Fuld isn’t going to fill the gap.

  8. smarterthantheauthor - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Jon Lester reportedly ecstatic to have his name pronounced “LESTER” again instead of “LESTAH”

  9. ejannetta - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Red Sox gave up their 2 best starters and basically have no starting pitching……..Lester coming back to the Sox next year….Don’t bet on it……The Sox had their best chance signing Lester while he was with the team….Now, they will be in a bidding war with the Yanks and other teams…….Lester is NOT coming back to Boston

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