In the most shocking trade of the days leading up to the deadline by far, now-former Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester will head to the Oakland Athletics along with outfielder Jonny Gomes in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Jon Heyman was the first to report that it was the A’s acquiring Lester, and Alex Speier was the first to report the return. Jeff Passan reports that Boston will also be getting a competitive balance draft pick from Oakland, and Boston will also send cash to the A’s, presumably to cover at least part of Lester’s salary for the remainder of the season.
Jon Lester will step in to an excellent rotation that also includes Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jason Hammel and Jesse Chavez. Obviously, someone will have to be the odd man out; presumably it will be either Hammel or Chavez.
Jon Lester, an All-Star this season, has a 10-7 record to go along with a 2.52 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched. Gomes, who is normally heavily platooned against left-handers (and will probably continue to be with platoon master Bob Melvin at the Oakland helm), is batting .234 this year with 6 home runs and 32 RBI, not particularly strong numbers, although he is hitting .302 against lefties compared to an abysmal .151 against same-sided pitching. Cespedes, also an All-Star (and home run derby champion once again), is batting .256 this year with 17 home runs, 67 RBI, and an amazing 12 outfield assists.
This is obviously an all-in move for Billy Beane and the A’s, as pitching has proven time and time again to win championships, and the A’s feel that they can win without Yoenis Cespedes (and who knows, they may look for another outfielder today). The A’s are still the best team in the majors and hope that acquiring Jon Lester will continue to propel them to a World Series championship.
The trade may have some repercussions for Oakland, as Cespedes was an important piece, but in trading Cespedes to the Red Sox and top prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs earlier this year, Beane is looking to win this year. If he doesn’t, this trade goes down as a pretty major failure for Oakland in giving up Cespedes and a draft pick for a two-month rental. We’ll just have to wait and see.