Red Sox send Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes to A’s for Yoenis Cespedes
|07.31.14 at 9:49 am ET|
The Athletics are loading for bear in their rotation, believing that power pitching is what wins in the postseason. With Lester — one of the best postseason pitchers of all time and the American League-leader in ERA over the last calendar year — fronting a rotation that now also features Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray, the Athletics appear to be in position to try to make a run. Lester, of course, is eligible for free agency after this season, and with no signs of an extension on the immediate horizon between the Sox and the left-hander, the decision was made to deal him.
The A’s are acquiring Lester at the absolute height of his career.
Gomes, 33, represents a right-handed bat with thump who has experience both in the playoffs and in Oakland. The Bay Area native was viewed as a key figure in the start of the A’s current contention run when he spent the 2012 season there, hitting .262/.377/.491 with 18 homers in 99 games. This year with the Red Sox, he’s hitting .234/.329/.354 with six homers in 78 games — but .302/.400/.431 against lefties.
Cespedes, 28, represents the potential middle of the order corner bat that the Red Sox have been missing. Still, there are questions about the aggressiveness of his approach. He is hitting .256 with a .303 OBP and .464 slugging mark with 17 homers in 101 games this year, after hitting .240/.294/.442 in 2013. But his massive right-handed power represents an obvious fit for Fenway Park.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A’s prior to the 2012 season, and is eligible for free agency after 2015; he’s under contract for $10.5 million for next season. (A clause in Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be released at the conclusion of his four years, thus meaning he will *not* be subject to the rules of a typical XXB free agent — a long way of saying that he cannot be issued a one-year qualifying offer that would net a team, if he left in free agency, a compensatory draft pick.) At that salary, he could be moved — and it’s difficult to ignore the possibility that he would have appeal to a number of teams, among them, a Marlins organization that has a huge Cuban fan base — but according to one source familiar with the Sox’ thinking, the Sox did not acquire Cespedes with a plan to flip him.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports also reports that the A’s are including their second 2015 competitive balance pick in the deal, helping to offset the compensatory draft pick that the Sox passed on by dealing Lester rather than retaining him through the end of the year.
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