A’s Acquire Lester, Gomes; Cespedes To Boston

2:12pm: The A’s are paying $650K of Cespedes’ salary but are getting back $1.8MM from the Red Sox for Lester’s salary, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

11:35am: The teams have announced the trade. Nightengale tweets the exact figure that will be heading to Oakland: $650K.

10:09am: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports another wrinkle in the trade: Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be non-tendered at the end of his deal (if he is not first extended) in order to assure him early free agency, and he therefore is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer following the 2015 season (Twitter links).

9:14am: The Red Sox are sending under $1MM to the A’s in the trade, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America tweets that the value of the Competitive Balance pick that Boston receives will be roughly $800K.

8:54am: Passan tweets that Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and Boston is sending cash to Oakland. The A’s landed the second pick in Comp Round B in last week’s lottery.

8:49am: The Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that Lester had been traded to an unknown club, while Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com first connected the A’s and Lester earlier this week.


The addition of Lester will give Oakland an incredibly formidable rotation for the balance of the regular season, but perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Lester, who has posted a 2.52 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate, will join fellow trade acquisition Jeff Samardzija, free agent signing Scott Kazmir and homegrown star Sonny Gray atop Oakland’s rotation.

It’s possible that the struggles of Jason Hammel, acquired from the Cubs along with Samardzija back on July 4, prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to aggressively pursue another sizable rotation upgrade. While the loss of Cespedes will hurt Oakland’s lineup, the team can afford to part with some offense; the A’s rank first in the Majors in runs scored, sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage. Gomes won’t replace Cespedes’ power or his .256/.303/.464 batting line, but he’s a formidable opponent against lefties, having slashed .302/.400/.431 against southpaws in 2014 and .279/.379/.495 in his career.

Cespedes will bring the Red Sox a much-needed outfield bat, though he’s only under team control through the 2015 season due to a clause in his contract that allows him to forgo arbitration and hit the free agent market after his initial four-year term. He’s slated to earn $10.5MM next season — the same sum that he is owed in 2014. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Cespedes recently voiced a disinterest in playing center field with the A’s, but he did so through a teammate rather than by approaching manager Bob Melvin directly, which likely didn’t sit well with the team (Twitter links).

Yoenis Cespedes

The pair of blockbuster trades by Beane signifies a clear “all-in” philosophy on the 2014 season. Oakland has traded its best prospect (Addison Russell), a 2013 first-round pick (Billy McKinney) and one of its most dangerous bats (Cespedes) in an attempt at the most dominant pitching staff it can muster for the playoffs. There will be no compensation if (or, perhaps more appropriately given his likely price tag — when) Lester departs as a free agent, as baseball’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who did not spend the entire regular season on one team from receiving qualifying offers.

For the Red Sox, who hope to re-sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, this trade at least gives them a chance, perhaps a slight one, to have Lester and Cespedes on the same team in 2015 when the club takes another shot at contending. Beyond that, the addition of a draft pick is an interesting wrinkle, as it allows Boston to enjoy the best of both worlds, in a way. GM Ben Cherington could have kept Lester and extended a qualifying offer in hopes of recouping a draft pick if Lester signed elsewhere in free agency. Now, the Sox will get a bonus pick regardless (albeit a slightly later one), and they also are guaranteed a middle-of-the-order bat for the 2015 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston engage Cespedes in extension talks either, though that is nothing more than my own speculation at this juncture.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

841 Responses to A’s Acquire Lester, Gomes; Cespedes To Boston Leave a Reply

  1. Rafael Bustamante 12 months ago

    This is a good trade for the A’s. Why? Because Cespedes is a sub-300 OBP guy, sub-250 AVG, who only has good (but not great) power and a good arm. Besides that, he has nothing more. So, you get rid of a mediocre player that is paid 10.500.000 next year, you get a nice rental player (Lester) and you get Gomes, who is not a great player but he is a slugger like Cespedes and can give you some HR as well. The big loss would be Cespedes arm in the OF but only that! To understand this trade you have to think about the goal of it, A’s just wanted to get what they need to win the WS this year, and they can also have 10.500.000 more next offseason to get what they need. I think it was a win-win trade but more for the A’s.

    • meep 12 months ago

      plus gomes is a former A who did pretty well for them that season. maybe gomes needs a different place to get some of his power back. they didnt get what they wanted from Hammel so i can see why they went and got lester. i just wonder if Hammel never struggle would the As still get lester

      • Patick L 12 months ago

        I think you are correct that Hammel going 0-4 caused this trade to occur. I actually wonder if Hammel will get flipped before midnight.

  2. S710b 12 months ago

    The Red Sox are not resigning Lester. That notion is naive and is starting to annoy me. He was traded because they couldn’t come to terms on an extension. There’s no way the Red Sox are going to pony up to pay him market value after their ridiculously low offer. Dream on, Sox fans–sorry.

  3. Jay Sanders 12 months ago

    Enough with the Lester going back to Boston talk – there’s no way he resigns there. Boston missed their chance when they lowballed him earlier this year and I think he was just trying to save face with the media when he said he’d resign there. If Boston only offered him $70 mil in spring training I have a hard time seeing them cough up $150 mil to outbid teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Tigers. And IMO they look like a rebuilding team right now – they got a decent offense with a lot of old players and no pitching.

  4. KINGMOJO 12 months ago

    I think oakland made a huge mistake in trading for Lester.they lost their power hitting OF for a 3 month rental. The A’s didn’t need Lester with a rotation of gray,shark,kazmir,hammels,Chavez/miloney(traded). I guess it’s World Series or bust for Oakland,

    • Patick L 12 months ago

      It always is it seems. Loved Cespedes but good pitching normally beats good hitting. Lester, Smaj, Kazmir, Gray. That’s a pretty good starting 4 in the playoffs. If it doesn’t work out then people will back on here blasting Beane. If it does they will say how great he is. The longest the A’s were going to be able to afford Cespedes was another year, but I’m sure Beane and company did their research and decided to pull the trigger. Hammels has been a bust so in comes Lester. Plus the A’s are first in runs scored this year so they can afford to give away some offense even if it is a power guy. Still have Moss and Donaldson and now Gomes, so they will be OK. Like you said, WS or bust!

  5. Wow! What a shocker! This unpredictable move is exactly what I was hoping for when I visited MLB Trade Rumors on my break. Man is that Billy Beane going for it! Has any team ever rebuilt their rotation in the second half like the A’s have? Added an Ace and a number two to build a playoff ready rotation on the fly?

  6. Jesse Rodriguez 12 months ago

    Love Cespedes but pitching gets it done, Welcome to Oakland Lester

    • Danielle Rennifer 12 months ago

      How will the A’s fans react if Cespedes is traded to Seattle w/ Napoli for a young player or two on MLB roster and some prospects when both teams face each other at the Coliseum yays or boos?

      • bayareabeast 12 months ago

        A mix. Really hasn’t done enough except win a couple HR derbys to deserve cheers while he’s on another team, but he was traded as well its not like he left to go sign with seattle which would be the only reason I might boo a guy.

  7. Jeff Snedden 12 months ago

    Very strange trade, but ultimately it comes down to this: Jon Lester MUST be the shut-down ace Oakland needs down the stretch and in October. If he is anything less than a lockdown starter that wins 3 or 4 postseason starts, this trade will end up being one of the worst deals in Oakland history. Cespedes is a legit big-league All Star with a big personality that will shine in Boston. He is going to be a massive upgrade in Fenway, and could hit 40 HR there. The Red Sox will re-sign him to a long term deal and he will immediately become one of the biggest stars in that city. This is a great trade for the Red Sox. If Lester is that postseason MVP-type starter that gets the A’s a World Series title, then its a win-win. Anything less than an AL Pennant for Oakland, and this is a loss for the A’s.

  8. Matt 12 months ago

    IMO if I’m Oakland why mess up a good thing? You have the best record in baseball. I think Billy is trying to get too fancy.

    • nhsoxfan 12 months ago

      Pitching wins, and Idk if you saw Hammel’s stats last night, but they were in need of another playoff ready arm.

  9. FamousGrouse 12 months ago

    The A’s made this trade for the Tigers.

  10. Kyle 12 months ago

    What’s Boston’s starting rotation look like right now?

    • Jack Miller 12 months ago

      De la Rosa, Buchholtz, Workman, Webster, Kelly which is a staff that seems fitting for a team like the Astros.

      • Unassisted Triple Play 12 months ago

        Don’t forget Lester – he’ll re-uo in the offseason. Red Sox are done for this year why not steal Cespedes – they can pay him!

  11. Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

    Why can’t A’s sign Lester to 2-year deal after the season? If they win a WS this year, Lester pitches well, likes the team….signs 2 year deal. Oakland has top 2 salary players (Cesp & Jim Johnson) off the books…only $30M guaranteed for 2015…ARB for Samardjiza, Moss, Reddick, Jaso, Gentry, Fuld, Chavez, Rodriguez, Abad, Sogard, Cook, Donaldson, Parker, FA for Lowrie, Gregerson, Callaspo….2015 salary ends up being about $70M…could be less with tweaking….sign Lester for 2 years, $40M? OAK ends up with an $85M salary in 2015?

    • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

      Just have to imagine that the A’s will at least want to make a play for him if they gave up Cespedes (control in 2015) for him….hardly anything in 2015 is guaranteed on the books….and the A’s have done many things they haven’t done before this year…including raising the salary

      • bayareabeast 12 months ago

        Im sure if lester wanted to sign a 2 year deal he would of signed one with boston(who just won a WS)

        • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

          There’s no immediate future with Boston…how do they figure to win a WS in the next 2 years? Dreadful offense, a pitching staff all on the move…Boston is going through another re-tooling phase…Oakland figures to be in the World Series maybe 2 of the next 3 years…it’s all based on situation and Oakland is a very good one to be in right now.

          • matt1101 12 months ago

            Though I’m not a red sox fan, can never count them out. Look at what they did last year.

          • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

            That’s true, but I wouldn’t bet $10 on it. The team stinks now (even more than it did yesterday).

    • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

      Just have to imagine that the A’s will at least want to make a play for him if they gave up Cespedes (control in 2015) for him….hardly anything in 2015 is guaranteed on the books….and the A’s have done many things they haven’t done before this year…including raising the salary

    • nhsoxfan 12 months ago

      Lester will get at least 5 years from any team. There will be no 2 year deals for any pitcher of his caliber.

  12. Unassisted Triple Play 12 months ago

    This just screams ALL-IN by oakland and I get it. Next season Cespedes, Lester maybe even Smardzija gone but they couldn’t afford them anyway so these moves are truly the only way a small market club will EVER have a superstar ridden team capable of playing with the big spenders and win it all. I get it. Kudos to Billy Beane, I hope it works out!

    • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

      Cespedes and Samardzija are both club-controlled through 2015…but I see what you’re saying. Lester is a significant upgrade over Jason Hammel and Fuld/Gomes isn’t that significant of a downgrade from Cespedes. YC is a flashy player but can’t get on base and probably won’t crack 3.0 WAR unless he can figure out his discipline issues (he’s naturally a swing-first hitter).

      • Unassisted Triple Play 12 months ago

        Cespedes was traded – he won’t be an athletic in 2015 regardless of control. If they can’t lock up Jeff S he may start the year an A but probably won’t end the year an A so yeah my comment was fine.

        • Brendan Purcell 12 months ago

          Yeah I just meant that if they A’s had kept both Cesp and Shark they would have been club-controlled. Sorry I didn’t understand what you were saying at first

          • Unassisted Triple Play 12 months ago

            Just meant that a lot of the key players being swapped are high dollar players that realistically probably won’t be in the long term future plans for Oakland. That said, they have stacked the deck for this year.

  13. Not a fan at all lol why trade for a rental pitcher and get rid of basically the best piece in your offense. Oakland is desperate and it’s going to backfire… but at least the Tigers got a steal.

  14. BTW, can’t picture Lester in an A’s uniform…gonna look weird lol

  15. Shaundalyn Chic 12 months ago

    Cespedes will murder the Green Monster

  16. Craig Gould 12 months ago

    must be a mis-print. Gomes and Lester to Oak for Cespedes

  17. sean 12 months ago


  18. mstrchef13 12 months ago

    It’s a blockbuster because you have heard of everyone involved.

  19. sean 12 months ago


  20. bravo_84 12 months ago

    Might want to check that one again sir. I think you missed where Gomes was already in Boston.

  21. No Baseball In Indiana 12 months ago


  22. Dean Olson 12 months ago

    Well I’m happy someone else saw it.

  23. You do realize this is MLBTR’s busiest day of the year? Cut Steve some slack.

  24. No Baseball In Indiana 12 months ago

    LOL! Editing this must take 1 whole minute.

  25. He’s also trying to get the full story. It’s not like there’s a massive newsroom where he can have an intern do it.

  26. d-blaqueqq 12 months ago

    Yeah, because it’s not like he’s being tested at all.

  27. Alexander_Brovechkin 12 months ago

    They fixed it so all is right in the world. Today is like MLBTR’s Christmas; I’m just making sure they are on their game :).

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