Lester was thought to be heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, or Pittsburgh Pirates today, but the Athletics swooped in here on July 31st and completed the deal with the Red Sox, by giving up Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes in return. The A's are going all in this year--they have already acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs before going after Lester today.
On the season, Lester is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, 2.62 FIP, and a 149 to 32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 143 innings pitched. The three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion owns a career 3.64 ERA and a 3.60 FIP in nine seasons with the Red Sox. He might be the biggest prize of this trade deadline, considering the fact that neither Cole Hamels or David Price are locks to get moved.
Lester is a free agent at the end of the season, and might just return to Boston next year. He said that if a trade occurred, he would not feel any hard feelings towards the Red Sox, and he would be willing to sign a new contract with the team after this season. So he might help the Athletics win a World Series, and then return to the team that drafted him in the Boston Red Sox. By moving Lester now, the Red Sox get a return for him, and might be able to get him back during the offseason.
They are also giving up Jonny Gomes, who will bring a veteran presence to the Athletics, while also playing the outfield in Cespedes' place. On the season, Gomes it hitting a .234/.329/.354 slash-line with six home runs and 32 RBI in 246 plate appearances on the season. Gomes will be returning to the team that he spent with during the 2012 season. Gomes was a part of the Red Sox World Series run last season and like Lester is a free agent at the end of the year.
In return, the Red Sox will be getting two-time Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes. Imagine all his natural power playing in Fenway Park. In his career there, Cespedes is 6-for-24 with three extra base hits (no home runs) with three runs batted in. On the season, in 432 plate appearances, Cespedes is hitting a triple-slash line of .256/.303/.464 with 17 home runs and 67 runs batted in. Over his 1,546 plate appearances in his career, Cespedes is hitting .262/.318/.470 with 66 homers and 229 driven in.
Cespedes is under contract through next season, as he signed a four-year, $36 million contract out of Cuba with the Athletics. So as of right now, the Boston Red Sox have the rights to Yoenis Cespedes through 2015 before he officially becomes a free agent.
The Red Sox outfield has the lowest slugging percentage in the major leagues at .344. Cespedes will help that need greatly. Boston's outfield has a combined 3.6 fWAR, which ranks 13th-worst in the major leagues. Their 85 wRC+ ranks sixth-worst in the major leagues as well. So Cespedes will fill a need, as well as bring a huge return for their ace.
This is a huge deal that seems very fair for both teams. And it is only the beginning of trade deadline day. Stay tuned here at Cover Those Bases for more updates on the latest trades and rumors.