MLB Trade Rumors: Will Boston’s Jon Lester Land With Pittsburgh Pirates?


The clock is winding down as 4 p.m. Thursday is the MLB trade deadline, and what initially appeared to be a quiet time for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, now they have been linked to Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.

Lester reportedly has been confused by the Red Sox aggression to have contract talks during the season. The Red Sox normally wait until after the season to have these talks and Lester does not want the distraction.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pirates and Oakland Athletics have expressed interest in the left-handed starter, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that as of Wednesday morning that the Dodgers are in the lead. Meanwhile Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported the Red Sox were not satisfied with any offers the various teams presented.

With this and more in Lester’s mind, Boston manager John Farrell decided that his staff ace will not make his scheduled start Wednesday.

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Were the Pirates to acquire Lester, it would show their seriousness towards a playoff chase. They are currently a game back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and currently hold the National League’s second wild card spot.

Lester would join a rotation that includes a rejuvenated Francisco Liriano, a more confident Charlie Morton and soon a re-energized Gerrit Cole. He would be able to make things easier for a Vance Worley or Edinson Volquez, and also become the staff ace to put less pressure on the rest of the staff.

All of this sounds great, but there always is a price and in this case maybe Josh Bell or other prospects would have to be included in a trade. General manager Neal Huntington has repeatedly said that team does not want to sacrifice tomorrow for today. His contention is that the Pirates are in a good position with what they currently have. He does not want to sacrifice the talented farm system he built for a player who has two months on his contact.

This type of deal reminds me of the C.C. Sabathia trade to Milwaukee in 2008 where the Brewers gave up four players. While Michael Brantley was the only one that panned out, you always run that risk.

Personally, I am against trading for two months of Lester. There is no chance the Pirates would be able to re-sign him and all signs would point to a return to Boston. The Pirates and Red Sox have been trade partners before and Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel are making contributions in Pittsburgh as a result.

The Red Sox have a high price tag on Lester, especially with no sign of David Price leaving Tampa Bay. This season Lester has 211 outs via the fly ball and 180 ground ball outs. Huntington has gone after pitchers that get outs via the ground out and Lester has not fit that bill this season.

On one hand acquiring Lester would be a great message to fans. It would shed some of the thought that the team is cheap and further excite the Pirates fan base. On the other hand, the price is almost certainly too high and it goes against everything Huntington believes in.

It’s encouraging the Pirates are in these talks, however a pass here is the right move.