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Redsox Trade Lester to A's for Cespedes in Blockbuster DealSalem-News.com Sports
It's possible that Cespedes will debut for the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park in a rivalry matchup against the Yankees
(BOSTON) - In a blockbuster move that sent long-time ace Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, the Red Sox acquired a premier slugger in Yoenis Cespedes, who is in his prime and has a season remaining on his contract.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes, who played for the Athletics in 2012, goes to Oakland with Lester and cash -- less than $1 million, according to a source. The Red Sox get the second pick in the Competitive Balance Round B of next year's Draft.
It was part of a whirlwind day that later saw the Red Sox make two more deals. Veteran No. 2 starter John Lackey went to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Top lefty setup man Andrew Miller was dealt to the Orioles for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.
All season long, the Red Sox have lacked a significant offensive presence behind David Ortiz. Though the arrival of Cespedes is probably too late to salvage Boston's postseason hopes this season, he gives them a cornerstone for 2015 and perhaps beyond.
It's possible that Cespedes will debut for the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park in a rivalry matchup against the Yankees.
Cespedes, who is mainly a left fielder but has also started three games in center this season, came over from Cuba in 2012. The Red Sox had interest in him at that time before he signed with Oakland.
The 28-year-old signed a four-year, $36 million contact with the Athletics. Per terms of the deal, he can become a free agent if he isn't re-signed by Oct. 31, 2015, or five days after the last game Boston plays that season. In addition, the Red Sox are unable to make a qualifying offer to Cespedes, which means they would not receive Draft-pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere as a free agent.
Though the Red Sox have long valued Lester as a pitcher, a teammate and a leader, his contract is due to expire at the end of this season and the club feared losing him for nothing more than Draft-pick compensation.
Boston had been unable to find common ground on a contract with the lefty, who was masterful last October in helping guide Boston to a World Series title.
A few days ago, Lester told reporters he would still be open to re-signing with the Red Sox even if he got traded.
So there's at least a chance Boston could have a 2015 roster that features Lester as the ace and Cespedes as a key hitter.
For the short term, Lester and Gomes have a legitimate chance to play in the World Series for a second straight season. The Athletics own the best record in the Majors at 66-41.
The sight of watching Cespedes take aim at the Green Monster should bring some joy to Red Sox fans, who have been disenchanted at watching the defending World Series champions get off to a 48-60 start and fall 13 games out in the American League East.
Cespedes won the Home Run Derby each of the past two years. In 101 games this season, Cespedes is hitting .256 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs. Though the Red Sox have an organizational philosophy of plate discipline, Cespedes has just 28 walks compared to 80 strikeouts.
He has a .262 average with 66 homers, 229 RBIs and a .788 OPS in his three seasons in the Majors.
This trade at least temporarily ends the long association between Lester and the Red Sox. He was drafted by Boston out of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash., with the 57th overall pick in 2002, and by June 2006, he was at Fenway Park making his Major League debut.
In 2006, at the age of 22, Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Four months later, he called then-manager Terry Francona to tell him he was cancer-free.
Lester was the winning pitcher the night the Red Sox clinched Game 4 of the 2007 World Series at Colorado.
He fired a no-hitter on May 19, 2008, the same season he developed into one of baseball's most reliable left-handed starters.
Aside from a shaky 2012 season, Lester was a model of consistency with the Red Sox, compiling a 110-63 record and a 3.64 ERA while making the All-Star team three times, including this season.
At the time of the trade, Lester was in the midst of one of the best runs of his career. He is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts.
The Red Sox don't play the Athletics again this season, so it remains to be seen when Lester will next pitch at Fenway Park.
Gomes, a platoon player, is known as a fiery player. He hit six pinch-hit homers in his two seasons in Boston, a number second only to Ted Williams in club history.
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