Pirates emerging as dark-horse for Jon Lester

The Pittsburgh Pirates are an emerging team in the sweepstakes for Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan writes that the Pirates are a dark-horse in the race for Lester. They join the Los Angeles Dodgers in pursuit of the Red Sox ace. Other teams known to be interested in Lester are the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Pirates currently sit two games back of the division-leading Brewers in the NL Central and only a half-game behind the last wild-card spot. Pittsburgh sports one of the top farm systems in all of baseball. They could take advantage of this strong farm system and go out an acquire an arm for their rotation. They are currently in the hunt for their second consecutive postseason appearance. A name that has been in the middle of talks is minor-league outfielder Josh Bell, a 21-year-old switch-hitting phenom.

The Red Sox are looking for a high return for Lester, who is going to be a free-agent at the end of the season. They are looking to acquire high-end prospects in return for Lester, who is only going to be a two-to-three month rental, if traded.

Bell has slashed .335/.384/.502 at Single-A Bradenton before a promotion recently to Double-A Altoona. The Pirates inked to a $5 million deal after picking him in the second round of the 2011 draft. Jon Lester has accumulated a 10-7 record to go along with a 2.52 ERA, 8.1 H/9 and a 4.66 K/BB this season. In twenty-one games started, Lester has a 2.62 FIP with a 3.0 WAR.

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