In the first major move of the day, the Oakland A’s have made another big splash in the baseball world. There has been a “mystery team” reported all along in the ‘Lester Sweepstakes’ and the Athletics seemed to have been that team. After acquiring Jeff Samardzjia and Jason Hammel earlier this month, we saw the A’s were going all-in on the season. As tweeted by our very own Colby Rogers today, Billy Beane and the Athletics are “beyond all-in”. How very true that is. In an absolute mega-deal, the Boston Red Sox have traded LHP Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for OF Yoenis Cespedes. The Red Sox will also be receiving a competitive balance draft pick, and the A’s will receive some cash from the Sox.
Final full trade: Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and $ to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes and the second pick in the competitive balance Comp B round.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2014
What a deal for the Oakland Athletics. How fun would it be to be an Athletics fan right now? Many fans complain that their teams and management aren’t aggressive enough at the deadline. Well, Billy Beane hasn’t let his fan base down. Jon Lester is a huge upgrade to a rotation and a team that is already one of the most dominant in baseball. He currently is 10-7 with a career best 2.52 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He also has 149 strikeouts in 143 IP. In 38.1 career innings at the Coliseum, the left-hander has a 3.52 ERA. Most importantly, the left-hander is a career 6-4 in the postseason with a 2.11 ERA. In three World Series starts, he is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA. So far, Jason Hammel has been a letdown. Many of us predicted Hammel couldn’t continue the success he had earlier this season. Even with Samardzija, Sonny Gray, and Scott Kazmir atop of the A’s rotation, they figured why not even more? Throw Lester into the mix and you easily have the best four-man rotation in baseball. These guys are ready for the playoffs. Yes, they will have to fill the Cespedes hole, which is a very large one, but we all know pitching wins. We see it all the time in the postseason. Whoever has the best staff wins the World Series. It is as simple as that. Billy Beane knows that, and that is what he has done.
As for the Boston Red Sox, they add one of the best right-handed power bats in baseball. Cespedes is currently hitting .256 with 17 HR, 67 RBI, and a .303 OBP. He does strike out a lot and since his rookie season has not hit for average, but we all know his upside. He has a killer arm in the outfield and plays great defense. And putting his bat in Fenway with the Green Monster sounds like a fun combination. The Red Sox, who have many issues, needed a bat next to David Ortiz. Jon Lester certainly had to go with all that has gone down with him and management before and throughout the season, so adding a big bat is a good move for the team. They give up two players who only have a couple months of team control left for Cespedes, who is under contract through 2015. Very impressive.
Also, let’s not forget Jonny Gomes. Think of the Oakland A’s. Now think of that clubhouse’s attitude and persona. Who fits right into that mix? Jonny Gomes. Big beard. Big personality. Perfect fit. He seems to be in the playoffs every year. While he he can’t and won’t fill the hole of Cespedes, Gomes will be a nice addition to the lineup. While he is only hitting .234 with six HR and 32 RBI, we know what he can provide down the stretch. Adding his enthusiasm to a team that is trying to win a World Series will help his numbers.
One thing to look at is Lester’s career numbers against the Angels and Cespedes’ career numbers at Fenway. Might as well, right? Lester has started eight career games against the Angels. In 48.2 IP, he has a 4-2 record with a 4.44 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. The record is irrelevant. The ERA and WHIP? Somewhat relevant. Let’s just say Lester hasn’t been dominant against the Angels in his lifetime. And the main goal for the Athletics will be beating out the Angels in the West. We will see how that plays out. The Red Sox’s newest slugger in 24 AB’s at Fenway is only hitting .250 with zero home runs. I get it. Small sample size. He has only played six games there, but I figured I would give you those numbers anyways. Something to munch on.
Last note: Jon Lester will not have a draft pick tied to his name once he hits free agency in the offseason. This will allow for Lester to receive real big money, so congrats to him.
Who do you think won the deal? Let us know! What a start to the 2014 MLB Trade Deadline!