BOSTON (CBS) — Jon Lester has been traded to the Oakland Athletics
Outfielder Jonny Gomes will also go to Oakland. The A’s will send Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox to complete the deal.
The All-Star left-hander was scratched a day before his Wednesday night start, amid a flurry of trade rumors. The Red Sox, who were World Series champs last October but are currently sitting in last place in the AL East, elected to trade their No. 1 starter ahead of Thursday’s deadline after both sides apparently agreed that no long-term extension could be agreed upon. Lester will be a free agent after this season.
The 30-year-old is currently 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and a 4.66 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his career, Lester is 110-63 with a 3.64 ERA in more than 1,500 innings pitched, all with the Red Sox. He was named to the American League All-Star team this season for the third time since 2010.
Cespedes, 28, is currently in his third major league season. The Cuban outfielder is hitting .256 with 17 homers and a .767 OPS. In his career, Cespedes owns a .262 batting average, .318 on-base percentage and .788 OPS. He won this year’s Home Run Derby earlier this month.
Cespedes is under contract through next season, when he’ll make $10.5 million. He’ll be a free agent after the 2015 season.
Gomes, 33, is hitting .234 this season with six home runs and a .683 OPS.
Lester is in the sixth year of his contract, which he signed in 2009. It paid him an average of just more than $7 million per year, but he is due for a massive raise in the coming offseason. While Lester and his agent, Seth Levinson, have not publicly shared what the lefty will be looking for, it’s likely he’ll be looking at least for something in the range of Cole Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract.
Lester and the Red Sox failed to even come close to an agreement in spring training, and principal owner John Henry recently said that all contract talks would be tabled until the end of the season.
Those comments came a week after team chairman Tom Werner expressed ownership’s stance on Lester.
“Any sober baseball executive is aware of the increasing injury time that pitchers are spending on the DL,” Werner told The Boston Globe. “You don’t have to look too far — the Yankees have, what, four-fifths of their rotation on the DL? You have to take selective risks. Jon Lester has been consistently strong in his career and durable. But with any player over 30, you have to be cognizant of the risks.”
The comments from ownership likely were an effort to soften the blow of trading Lester, who’s a fan favorite in Boston for a number of reasons. Fans watched in 2006 when the then-26-year-old was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma during his rookie year. Lester’s cancer was successfully treated, and he returned to the mound the following year. He posted a 1.93 ERA in the 2007 postseason and won the clinching game of the World Series against Colorado.
Lester made his first All-Star team in 2010, when he went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and finished fourth in Cy Young voting. He was an All-Star again in 2011, and in the 2013 postseason, he went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts. In his two World Series starts (Games 1 and 5), he allowed just one run over 15 1/3 innings while striking out 15 batters and walking just one.
The A’s are currently in first place of the AL West, 2.5 games up on the Angels.
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