Jon Lester Rumors

Nightengale’s Latest: Hamels, Phillies, Dodgers, Lester, Price

Here’s the latest from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who provides several interesting trade market updates:

  • The Dodgers recently inquired about Phillies starter Cole Hamels, and were asked for a return that included all of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias. Los Angeles indicated it had no interest in a deal with that framework, but Philadelphia has not move yet from that asking price. The Phils are telling clubs that it wants three top-tier youngsters and another mid-level prospect in return for Hamels.
  • Nightengale suggests that the Phillies might, however, consider a lesser return in a deal that would include a mix of Hamels along with several of the club’s less-attractive long-term commitments. Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon would figure to be involved in such a scenario, Nightengale notes, which might free the Phillies to be a big player in next year’s free agent market.
  • Team sources indicated that the club has not yet had discussions of that kind of trade, however, and Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines (Twitter links) that the team will not accept a more modest return on Hamels simply to move other contracts. The team wants three or four top prospects and would not pay any of Hamels’ future obligations, he adds.
  • As for the Dodgers, a deal involving Matt Kemp seems inevitable, given the disagreement between club and player on his role. But it remains to be seen whether he is deal this summer or over the offseason. (It is worth noting, of course, that Kemp would be a hypothetical August trade piece given his huge contract.)
  • The Red Sox are asking for two high-end prospects in return for Lester, executives who are involved in talks tell Nightengale. A hypothetical return for him would not rise to the level of what the Rays could get for their top lefty, David Price, the sources say. Price not only has an additional year of control, but would come with a much more promising window for extension talks and could at least allow a new team to recoup some value through a qualifying offer.
  • The Rays face a tough decision on Price: they would face serious internal repercussions for moving him at this point, but are tantalized by the possibilities of a return. Nightengales suggests that Tampa has reason to believe it could pry Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, and a 2015 first-round compensation pick from the Cardinals in a swap involving Price.

AL East Rumors: Lackey, Blue Jays, Masterson

The Red Sox are willing to move one or both of John Lackey and Jon Lester, depending on the returns, sources tell WEEI’s Alex Speier. However, while the club is willing to move Lester within the division because he is a free agent at season’s end, they’re less inclined to move Lackey within the division, as he is controlled through 2015.

Here’s more on Lackey and the AL East…

  • In a second piece, Speier writes that it will be difficult for the Sox to move Lackey, though, as he’s expressed an understandable hesitance to pitch at the league minimum next year, and it would leave the Red Sox with little to no stability in their rotation. Speier suggests a one-year, $16.5MM extension (the AAV of Lackey’s current deal, prior to his league-minimum option kicking in), which could feel fair to both clubs. Essentially, it would amount to a two-year, $17MM deal, of course.
  • A trade of Lester could impact Lackey’s willingness to return to the Red Sox, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Lackey and Lester are close, and Rosenthal suggests that Lackey may not want to sign an extension or play for $500K next year if Lester is gone.
  • Yesterday’s acquisition of Danny Valencia may prove to be the biggest move that GM Alex Anthopoulos makes prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, writes Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. The Blue Jays are getting contributions from two of their biggest trade chips — Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman — and the platoon of Steven Tolleson and Munenori Kawasaki has hit well to this point. Anthopoulos is still looking for a right-handed platoon partner for Adam Lind, but Nolan Reimold could fill that void. It seems to me that it’s a stretch to count on that many question marks, but Kennedy speculates that the team’s payroll limitations may be more significant than Anthopoulos has admitted to the public. Kennedy runs down the pros and cons of some speculative Jays targets.
  • While Justin Masterson is similar to Yankees acquisitions Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley — all are formerly productive players with sizable salaries and diminished production in 2014 — the Yanks aren’t interested in acquiring him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman points out that teams could be more open to acquiring Masterson in August if he clears waivers and begins pitching better following a DL stint, but the Indians, who are still in the Wild Card hunt, may just hang onto him then. Cleveland is “very willing” to move Masterson, who has reportedly drawn trade interest from other clubs.

Olney’s Latest: Marlins, Lester, Phils, Suzuki, Kemp

Rival executives continue to say that the Marlins are lurking in the trade market, looking to acquire a starting pitcher that can help them beyond the 2014 season, writes Buster Olney in his latest ESPN Insider-only blog post. Marlins president of baseball ops Michael Hill has said the team won’t be sellers — as first noted by Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald on Monday — and Olney calls them “an intriguing candidate to surprise” before the deadline. He points out that Miami is closer to the division lead in the NL East than the Rays are in the AL East.

Here are some more highlights from Olney’s latest efforts…

  • Executives who have spoken with the Red Sox expect them to trade Jon Lester and others before Thursday’s deadline, because the team can extract more value from a trade than it could through draft pick compensation. Olney also spoke with a close friend of Lester, who told him that there’s “no chance” Lester will sign with the Sox at this point.
  • With less than three days until the trade deadline, the Phillies have made zero trades despite being among the league’s most obvious selling candidates. Officials who have spoken with the Phils have found it difficult to gain traction in trade talks and wonder how committed the team is to moving its veteran pieces. Olney writes that it will take a devotion to change, no matter the cost, for the Phillies to turn their roster over, because they possess so many expensive players.
  • Kurt Suzuki of the Twins may be the only starting-caliber catcher available in trades, but with few contenders in need of a starter, there isn’t a huge market for him. However, as Olney notes, he’s not a candidate for a qualifying offer, so the Twins are in a tough spot.
  • Though Matt Kemp is a big name on the trade market, his performance hardly lines up with his reputation or to how he is valued by rival clubs. Olney spoke with two rival executives from separate teams what they would pay Kemp as a free agent and received nearly identical answers: a two-year, $15MM deal and a two-year, $16MM deal. Their best chance to move him may be to package him with a top prospect while still eating lots of salary.
  • Teams around the league still feel that the Dodgers are the most likely club to pull off a trade for Lester or David Price due to ownership’s “must-win” mantra and the team’s considerable resources.
  • Even if the Red Sox don’t move Stephen Drew, he could still be dealt in August. As Olney notes, Drew is similar to Cliff Lee in that the non-waiver trade deadline doesn’t apply to him, as each player is seen as too expensive relative to his remaining salary. Drew should clear waivers and give Boston a chance to deal him if he he starts hitting better, and at that point, he’ll have less money remaining on his contract as well.


Edes On Lester, Miller, Kemp, Lackey

The Red Sox are currently weighing offers on Jon Lester and Andrew Miller, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. However, as of late last night, there was a less than 50 percent chance that the Sox trade Lester, and the same holds true for Miller based on current talks. Edes’ source did note that he anticipates offers for each lefty will improve as the deadline draws nearer.

Regarding the club’s reported interest in Matt Kemp, Edes does hear that the Sox would consider Kemp, but a lot of money would need to be heading Boston’s way. At this point, talks with the Dodgers haven’t even gotten to the point where names have been swapped. (Weekend reports indicated that a Lester/Kemp framework would be possible if the Dodgers included other pieces.) The Dodgers have told some teams that they’d prefer to hang onto Kemp, but a source insisted to Edes that Kemp is still in play.

The Dodgers do like Miller as well, and reports last night indicated that they’re in on John Lackey also. Those reports indicated that Boston is “getting hit hard” on both Lackey and Lester, and Edes has another team to add to the Lackey mix: the Royals. Kansas City makes plenty of sense for Lackey, given the fact that he has a club option at the league minimum next year (triggered by an injury clause in his contract). That has to hold great appeal for the Royals, who have noted payroll limitations. The remaining $5.25MM on his 2014 salary, however, could be problematic.


Mariners, Orioles Have Inquired On Lester

Jon Lester has emerged as perhaps the most sought after name on the trade market, and there will be plenty of buzz about him in the next three days. We’ll track all of today’s Lester updates in this post…

  • The Red Sox are open to trading both Lester and Lackey for the right returns, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Multiple major league sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that it looks as though the Red Sox’s decision to trade Lester will most likely be made close to the 3pm CT deadline on July 31st, with the likelihood of a deal gaining steam.  One source says the Red Sox are unlikely to re-engage in talks with Lester’s representatives prior to the deadline.
  • The Red Sox, major league sources tell Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe, have been informed what kind of contract Lester is seeking and that has coincided with the team putting its ace on the trade market.
  • The Red Sox are getting “hit hard” on both Lester and John Lackey, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), and teams within the AL East are among those showing interest. Lackey’s contract contains a club option for the league minimum in 2015 that triggered after he missed a year of his current contract due to Tommy John surgery.
  • Indeed, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi tweets that the Orioles have reached out to Boston to express interest in Lester. Baltimore certainly has the pitching depth to make a push for Lester, although they’ve shown a past reluctance to part with any of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey or Eduardo Rodriguez.
  • Rosenthal also tweets that the Mariners have inquired on Lester, who is a native of Tacoma. The M’s have been connected to David Price since the offseason, but Lester would come with a slightly lower cost of acquisition given his proximity to free agency. Seattle has plenty of minor league talent as well, though top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton have both dealt with injuries in 2014.

Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Passan’s Latest: Crawford, Syndergaard, Tulo

The Dodgers have been floating Carl Crawford‘s name in trade talks, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.  It isn’t known how much the Dodgers are willing to eat of the roughly $69.25MM owed to Crawford through 2017, yet needless to say, it “will need to be a lot.”  L.A. was reportedly open to hearing offers for Crawford last winter, though there unsurprisingly wasn’t much interest given Crawford’s large salary, injury problems and declining performance over the last four seasons.

Here’s some more from Passan’s latest “Ten Degrees” column

  • The Cardinals and Mets are staying in touch with the Rockies about Troy Tulowitzki‘s availability, and the Mets are willing to include top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard as part of a trade package.  Colorado isn’t budging, however, unless Tulowitzki actually demands a trade, which could be part of the “let him be the bad guy” strategy that Passan considers “a ludicrous way to run a franchise.”
  • The Phillies are still looking for “a return of any kind” in exchange for Cliff Lee, according to two executives on teams interested in the veteran southpaw.  This implies that the Phils want more than just salary relief, which could be difficult given the size of Lee’s contract.
  • The four-year, $70MM extension offer the Red Sox made to Jon Lester last offseason may have made sense on paper for a team that is loath to spend big on a pitcher into his 30’s, yet Passan feels this offer was such a lowball that it has turned the Lester extension talks “into a season-long story” and cost Boston its hometown advantage in re-signing the ace.  One Red Sox insider tells Passan that “the likelihood of Boston re-signing Lester lessens by the day” and trading Lester might now be the best way for the Sox to get some value for the left-hander.
  • The Red Sox and Rangers had serious trade talks about Lester in the 2012-13 offseason, even to the point of exchanging some player names.  This obviously doesn’t mean Texas would get in on the bidding on a Lester trade now, given that they’re far out of contention and Lester is only signed through the end of the season.

Red Sox Notes: Lester, Dodgers, Miller

“There’s a growing expectation from rival execs that Jon Lester is going to be traded before [the July] deadline,” ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link), and the Dodgers are seen as the likeliest candidate to add the Red Sox left-hander.  Los Angeles has shown interest in Lester, though there were conflicting reports yesterday about whether the two sides had actually seriously discussed a trade.

Here’s some more news surrounding the defending World Series champs…

  • The Royals, Dodgers and Nationals are the latest known suitors for reliever Andrew Miller, according to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes and Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. (Edes reported the Royals’ interest while Gammons reported on the two NL teams.)  Boston is known to be shopping Miller, with the Braves and Pirates also amongst the clubs checking in on the lefty.  Miller has posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 14.5 K/9 and 5.0 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 relief innings for the Sox this season.
  • Also from Gammons, several other teams were interested in Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, the two ex-Giants prospects obtained by the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy trade.  Two different rival executives told Gammons they tried to get Hembree as a future set-up man, while Escobar’s stock was higher before he began his tough season at Triple-A.
  • In a piece full of notes and observations about the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe is baffled that Lester and the Sox seemed so mutually interested in a contract extension yet now Lester could be a trade candidate.  “Why the Sox seem almost eager to chase away one of their cornerstone players is a mystery,” Abraham writes, predicting that if Lester hits the open market, he’ll sign elsewhere since another teams will spend big for the southpaw.
  • Also from Abraham, he opines that the Red Sox should extend Miller rather than trade him, stay away from Matt Kemp in any trade talks with the Dodgers and release struggling reliever Edward Mujica.

Red Sox Considering Lester For Kemp Trade

6:51pm: A source from the Dodgers indicates there are no significant discussions between the Dodgers and Red Sox involving Kemp or Lester, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets.

4:00pm: The Red Sox are considering a trade with the Dodgers involving Matt Kemp and Jon Lester as the principals, a club source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The Dodgers’ interest in Lester was reported yesterday by Edes.

Kemp’s name is being floated since the Dodgers are unwilling to part with top outfield prospect Joc Pederson, according to Edes. Centering a deal around Kemp, however, is problematic from the Red Sox’s perspective because of the $107MM remaining on his contract. For the deal to make any sense for Boston, Edes reports the Dodgers would have to be willing to eat a considerable amount of money, but they might be willing to do so for a pitcher of Lester’s caliber despite him being no more than a two-month rental. The Red Sox preference, however, is a package centered around Pederson.

Earlier today, it was reported Kemp is a backup plan for the Mariners while the Yankees are not currently in on the Dodgers outfielder. Kemp has been linked to the Indians and Rangers, as well.

Edes also notes Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is not available and the Red Sox have not inquired about Cliff Lee. For more on the 2014 trade market, check out MLBTR’s position-by-position breakdown.


Latest On Jon Lester

Here’s the latest on Jon Lester and the Red Sox:

  • Lester says he would not be inclined to consider a contract extension if a team traded for him, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “[M]y ultimate goal would be to come back here. That would be, like I said the other day, I know that’s hard to do,” Lester says. “Money doesn’t buy you happiness.” Speier notes that if Lester would be willing to agree to a deal with his new team as a condition of a trade, that might be a way for the Red Sox to get additional value from the deal.
  • Speier also writes that there has been “no meaningful dialogue” on a possible trade of Lester to the Dodgers.
  • The Red Sox want a “huge” return if they’re going to trade Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
  • The Dodgers have a good group of outfielders with which to do a Lester trade, including Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. (A recent report from Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston indicated the Dodgers and Red Sox were considering a Lester/Kemp deal.)
  • Any Lester/Kemp trade would need to include other pieces and/or money, Rosenthal tweets. He quotes another team’s GM who says, “He doesn’t add much value to any deal for us even at half his salary.” Kemp is owed $107MM from 2015 through 2019. Rosenthal also adds that trading Pederson for Lester would not make sense for the Dodgers unless they received other young talent in return.