Jon Lester Rumors

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.

Red Sox Notes: Lester, Gomes, Pirates, Henry, Carp

Here’s the latest out of Fenway:

  • Boston has fielded interest in Jon Lester from the Dodgers, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The sides have not made much headway, however. Los Angeles has long been said to be chasing another starter, and appear to have the kind of top-end prospects that would greatly entice the Sox (if they are willing to part with them).
  • The Royals have watched outfielder Jonny Gomes all week as they look for a right-handed hitting corner outfield bat, says Edes. Meanwhile, as Edes reports in another piece, the Pirates are among the clubs taking a close look at the Boston pen. As he notes, and as our trade market pieces (righties; lefties) reflect, Boston has many potentially available arms.
  • The Red Sox are taking a pragmatic approach at the deadline, principal owner John Henry tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald“Deals are always driven by value,” said Henry. “The value of this season is quickly declining in comparison to next year and beyond.” Henry said that the club’s poor offense has been “painfully evident,” noting that, “even running the bases, as measured by external stat geeks, we’ve been the worst in the league.” Though GM Ben Cherington advised Henry before the All-Star break that the club was still likely the best in the division, in spite of its poor record, the front office began preparing then for the possibility of hitting the trade deadline without a realistic shot at contention.
  • Mike Carp explained (and confirmed) his reported request for a trade, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports. Though his batting line has been poor, his playing time has also been rather sporadic. “It hasn’t been a shocker. I’ve been very blatant where I stand from the get-go about it,” Carp explained. I need the opportunity to play. I need the opportunity to get some at-bats. There really hasn’t been an attempt made here and I just feel like there would be a better situation at this point.”
  • In assessing whether to deal Lester, the Red Sox should take heed of the Yankees’ decision not to trade Robinson Cano last year, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The situations bear many similarities, Sherman, explains, and it would be a mistake for Boston to let one of its homegrown core players leave with only a compensatory draft pick to show for it. Lester’s could bring back quite a nice haul, leading Sherman to suggest the club ought to deal him unless it is determined to re-sign or extend him. In a similar vein, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opined yesterday that dealing Lester makes eminent sense if the team is not committed to bringing him back.
  • Trading Lester, I would suggest, could make it somewhat more palatable to later sign him to a market-rate contract. If he could bring back a legitimate prospect haul that has some promise of near-term big league impact, it would not only increase the value of paying for a top-end arm but would offset to some extent the expected negative value of the later years of a hypothetical Lester contract. In some ways, that could be the best scenario for all involved, and Lester has said he is amenable to re-signing if he is dealt. It is certainly true that such an option sometimes appears more achievable than it may truly be, and anything can happen once a team moves a player off its roster. But perhaps that is something to keep an eye on in Lester’s case.

Red Sox Notes: Webster, Cherington, Lester, Relievers

The Red Sox have enviable pitching depth in the minors, writes Alex Speier of WEEI. In addition to Rubby de la Rosa, who is already with the club, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, and Anthony Ranaudo could all be viewed as viable candidates to fill Jake Peavy‘s spot in the rotation. But the Sox will turn to yet another option tomorrow against the RaysAllen Webster.

  • GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, that the club “would listen to what teams are looking to do.” Said Cherington, “anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015.”
  • Boston should take advantage of a seller’s market and deal Lester, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If the club is hesitant about extending Lester – and they appear to be – then the Sox will get a lot more back via trade than they would with a qualifying offer. As Rosenthal notes, the club may qualify for a protected pick, and Lester has left the door open for re-signing even if he’s dealt. Cherington did say they want Lester in the 2015 rotation, according to Speier (twitter link).
  • The Pirates are among the clubs scouting Red Sox relievers, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. All seven Sox relievers have been mentioned as trade candidates, so it’s difficult to guess which player(s) most interest the Pirates.

Jon Lester Willing To Return To Red Sox If Traded

Free-agent-to-be Jon Lester would be willing to re-sign with the Red Sox in the offseason even if they traded him in the coming week, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. “I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love,” says Lester. “Like I’ve said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand.”

Edes notes that 17 or more teams watched Lester and the Red Sox face off against David Price and the Rays Friday night. Both Lester and Price are potential trade candidates.

Lester and the Red Sox had discussed an extension in spring training, but the Red Sox’ offer of four years and $70MM seemed to be quite low. Since then, Lester said that he does not want to discuss an extension during the season (although reports haven’t been entirely consistent regarding Lester’s position on in-season negotiations). The Red Sox, meanwhile, have characterized the $70MM offer as merely an “opening offer” to begin negotiations.

If the Red Sox were to trade Lester and then seek to re-sign him, his resulting ineligibility for the qualifying offer would change the dynamics of potential negotiations with other clubs. If the Red Sox keep Lester this season, they can then extend him a qualifying offer, which he would, obviously, be extremely likely to refuse. While the qualifying offer would be highly unlikely to derail the market for Lester in the way it did for Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Ervin Santana last offseason, it would be a factor for other teams negotiating with him, since they would have to consider the lost value of a draft pick.


East Notes: Price, Lester, Howard, Papelbon, Mets, Braves

All eyes were on Tampa, where David Price of the Rays and Jon Lester of the Red Sox are squared off in a match-up of top starting pitchers — and top potential trade pieces. And that includes many top scouts around the game, as several reports suggest. At least 17 clubs had eyes in the stands, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. That includes two each for the Royals, Giants, and Pirates. A scout from the Phillies was also on hand — according to a tweet from Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he is the club’s top evaluator — though presumably not for the two starters. Other teams with “top evaluators” watching, presumably with a variety of possible motives, included the Braves, Orioles, Mariners, Cubs, and Nationals, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Of course, it remains to be seen whether either of the two lefties is shopped, but the ramifications of the decisions of their respective clubs will obviously be widespread.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • In comments after the game, Lester said that he is “aware of what’s coming next week,” referring to the possibility of deals, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). If he does end up being shipped out, Lester said that he would still be open to re-signing with the team as a free agent.
  • The Red Sox-Lester situation remains a complicated one, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com explains. Boston’s decision-makers have clearly put out the word through the press that the club wanted to re-start extension negotiations, but were told that was not Lester’s preference. Meanwhile, sources tell Bradford that Lester’s camp would be willing to talk if the Sox came in with a realistic starting point. The underlying tension appears to be the basis for the notion that the fading club could consider dealing its best arm. If that does not happen, Bradford suggests that the team may intend to pursue a strategy it has employed in the past: make a larger offer after evaluating things in the offseason that falls shy of other open-market bids, banking on the player desiring to continue playing in Boston.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expanded on his comments regarding first baseman Ryan Howard, as Todd Zolecki of MLBcom reports on Twitter“I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year,” said Amaro.
  • Meanwhile, the Phillies have told teams that they are willing to hold on to some of the $18MM still owed to closer Jonathan Papelbon, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While there is still some market for Papelbon, Heyman says it does not look strong. His $13MM vesting clause for 2016, in particular, is a looming threat that would seem to complicate any deal.
  • The Mets are not engaged in any “substantive talks” at present, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, as Rubin notes, that does not mean that chatter won’t pick up in the coming days.
  • There were two injury updates today for the Braves, both via Joe Morgan of MLB.com. Southpaw Jonny Venters is making progress and is expected to begin throwing bullpen sessions soon. It still seems that he is a ways off, however, and manager Fredi Gonzalez made clear that the club is not yet counting on a return this season. Meanwhile, starter Gavin Floyd is also moving forward in his recovery from a fracture in his elbow, but Gonzalez says he will not even be evaluated again for a month. Needless to say, Atlanta does not seem destined to receive a surprise, late-season comeback from Floyd, who will be a free agent after the season.

AL East Notes: Lester, Sox, Lackey, Soria, Yanks, Rays

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said on WEEI radio’s Dennis and Callahan show today that extension talks with ace Jon Lester have been tabled until the offseason. Lucchino reminded that Lester’s preference is to avoid negotiating during the season. Lester told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, that he wasn’t surprised to hear Lucchino’s comments (Twitter link). However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com does hear from a source that Lester would be open to signing a midseason deal if the Sox were to offer market value for his services right now. The other possibility for Lester could be a trade, if the Sox fall further back in the East — a concept which Lester admits he has considered (via the Globe’s Nick Cafardo). Lester said if it came to that, he wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the organization.

Here’s more on the BoSox and the AL East…

  • Lucchino also said on WEEI that he expects the Red Sox to be active at the trade deadline, though he noted that nearing the deadline with a sub-.500 record is new territory for the Sox. Asked about buying or selling, Lucchino referred to the trade deadline as a “binary process” and implied that the Sox could do some of both.
  • Also of note from Lucchino is that the Red Sox plan to engage John Lackey in extension talks after the season. Lackey’s Tommy John surgery in 2012 triggered a $500K option for the 2015 season due to an injury clause in his contract. Lucchino is quoted: “I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’€™ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts.”
  • The Blue Jays were in the mix for Joakim Soria before the Rangers traded him to the Tigers, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Talks never became too serious or progressed to the stage where offers were exchanged, however.
  • Morosi also notes that the Yankees are still looking to add a starter to their ranks (Twitter link). Earlier today, he noted that the Yanks scouted Ian Kennedy‘s last start, though reports from earlier today indicated that the Padres would need to be “overwhelmed” to move him.
  • Rays president Matt Silverman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that there are some “obvious flaws” with the Competitive Balance Lottery, in which the Rays were not awarded a pick yesterday. As Topkin notes, seemingly less-needing teams such as the Cardinals, Orioles and Rockies all received picks. Silverman went on to say, however, that even if the lottery were better constructed, it would “only scratch the surface of the competitive balance issues plaguing baseball.”