Jon Lester Rumors
The Red Sox now have a 69-86 record, which means they’re at risk of losing 90 games for the first time in 46 years. The last time they reached the 90-loss threshold, back in 1966, Ben Cherington hadn’t been born, Bobby Valentine was in high school, and Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro roamed the Fenway Park outfield. Here’s the latest from Boston...
- The roles that the Red Sox envision for Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez “will not be ceremonial,” Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter). Gammons cites Padres executives Trevor Hoffman and Brad Ausmus as possible parallels for the Red Sox.
- Varitek is "close" to returning to the Red Sox organization. He will likely return as a special assistant to Cherington, Gordon Edes reported yesterday. The switch-hitting 40-year-old retired this spring.
- Jon Lester discussed the team's "nightmare" year with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, saying he's looking forward to forgetting about baseball for a while once the season ends. "The offseason for a lot of people hopefully is going to do good," Lester said.
Jon Lester was claimed on waivers, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). It's not clear which team(s) claimed the left-hander, who was on waivers one week ago. Evidently the Red Sox decided to pull Lester back off of waivers instead of trading him or assigning his contract to the claiming team.
Lester will earn $11.625MM next year and his contract includes a $13MM team option for 2014. Here’s a recap of which players have cleared waivers, plus a list of players who have been placed on revocable waivers.
Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury have been placed on revocable waivers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). Lester will earn $11.625MM next year and his contract includes a $13MM team option for 2014. Ellsbury will obtain a raise from $8.05MM when he goes to arbitration this offseason. He's on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
Teams routinely place players on waivers, even if they don't plan on trading them, so this is not an indication that the Red Sox intend to move Lester and Ellsbury. If they go unclaimed, the Red Sox will be able to complete a trade just as easily as they could have before the current waiver period began at the beginning of August.
If a team claims either Lester or Ellsbury, the Red Sox will have three choices. They can let the player (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. American League teams will have claiming priority on the Red Sox players.
Despite a report of the Red Sox shopping righty Josh Beckett to the Rangers and Braves, there was a clear vibe from reporters this morning that a trade is unlikely. Beckett can veto any trade given his 10-and-5 rights, and he's owed $37MM through 2014. The latest on the 32-year-old Texan...
- The Red Sox won't trade Beckett before the deadline, Gordon Edes tweets.
- The Rangers haven't ruled out the possibility of trading for Beckett, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Yet a rival GM estimates that there's just a 2% chance of a deal being completed. "Too much money involved, and Beckett isn't pitching that well," the GM told Edes.
- Beckett will not be traded to the Rangers, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has a different take on the Beckett situation. He says the Red Sox are willing to listen but not aggressively seeking to move him, and it is the Rangers, Braves, and Dodgers who called to inquire on Beckett. McAdam says the Sox won't assume much of the $37MM owed to Beckett, and the chances of a deal are less than 50-50.
- Asked by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe whether reports of him trying to move Beckett were accurate, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said no.
- The Braves are not a viable landing spot for Beckett right now, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford. Bradford says the Braves are not in position to assume Beckett's financial obligation, even if the Red Sox pick up a significant portion. MLB.com's Mark Bowman says the Braves are not a likely fit for Beckett, but Atlanta would be more interested in Jon Lester. The Red Sox are saying no, flatly, regarding calls about Lester, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Rangers people aren't too excited about the Beckett speculation, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- There is a sense that Beckett might waive his 10-and-5 rights for certain teams, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but clubs are concerned about his attitude and performance. In comments made to Bradford a couple days ago, Beckett said he prefers to stay, "But if people don’t want you, you don’t want to be there. Obviously I have some things where it would be very difficult for them to trade me if I didn’t want to be traded. But you have to think realistically. If you’re not wanted somewhere, why stay there? Know what I mean? It kind of makes it a little more difficult. But [GM Ben Cherington] assured me during spring training that he wants me here, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just made-up fodder."
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says there is no longer a required 24-hour waiting period for 10-and-5 players to approve a trade, so trade talk for players like Beckett and Ryan Dempster can go right down to the wire.
We checked in on the AL East this morning, but with less than a week remaining before the trade deadline, the rumors don’t stop coming. Here’s the latest...
- The Red Sox won't trade Jon Lester this summer, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports. The Red Sox are working to add starting pitching and have interest in controllable right-handers Matt Garza and Josh Johnson, Edes writes.
- Several clubs have approached the Red Sox about possible trades involving outfielders such as Ryan Kalish, Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross. The Pirates and Reds have both scouted the Red Sox extensively, according to Edes.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Blue Jays are trying to move Yunel Escobar and suggests they could have interest in Jose Reyes. The Blue Jays were very interested in Reyes as a free agent, Sherman writes.
- The Yankees aren’t likely to pursue Aramis Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). They could have interest in Chase Headley, however.
- In case you missed it, the Rays designated Hideki Matsui for assignment.
The Braves are seeking pitching help prior to the trade deadline, and MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports that they recently called the Red Sox about Jon Lester. Boston is not yet looking to sell, something we heard earlier this month.
"Pitching is at a premium," said GM Frank Wren. "It's so hard to get pitching because there are a limited amount of guys. There are a lot of guys being bantered around out there, and they're not really available because teams have not determined whether they're in or out. In some cases, they haven't determined whether they can sign them or not. It's really a tough market."
Lester, 28, is in the middle of the worst full season of his career. His 4.80 ERA is more than a full run higher than his 3.67 career mark, and his strikeout rate (7.6 K/9) is his lowest since 2008. The good news is that his 2.6 BB/9 is a career-best. Lester is owed $11.625MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2014.
Bowman says the Braves appear to be much more interested in Zack Greinke than Ryan Dempster, but they will not mortgage the future for a rental player. Atlanta is also in the market for bullpen help and Bowman opines that they may check in former Brave Omar Infante.
The Royals' rotation has a 5.42 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 this year, and they're averaging barely five innings per start. As ESPN.com’s Buster Olney explains, the Royals are perusing the market for starting pitchers who could help now and in the future. Here are the details:
- The Royals have indicated to other teams that they believe they’re about two years away from being serious contenders. They’re looking for starters who could be obtained now and kept for a couple more seasons.
- The Red Sox are also more interested in adding long-term pieces than two-month rentals, Olney writes. While there’s no indication the Red Sox are willing to trade Jon Lester, some wonder whether the left-hander would benefit from a change of scenery.
- One GM suggested Ryan Dempster would be better off avoiding trades to American League teams this summer. Dempster, a lifelong National Leaguer, can veto any trade. An agent agreed that Dempster would be better off in a pitcher-friendly environment. "If he gets hit hard, it'll cost him," the agent told Olney. The Dodgers are viewed as the favorites to acquire Dempster, who will hit free agency after the season.
- Olney suggests Nate Schierholtz could be a nice addition for the Yankees. The Giants outfielder has said he’d be open to a trade.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke about Florida baseball with Bud Selig and he had mixed emotions on how successful it is, as he's frustrated with the Rays' attendance figures but noted that the Marlins' numbers are up significantly after the opening of their park. "They’ve run a great operation," the commissioner said. "They’re a very competitive organization, a very competitive team. As I study the attendance every day and looking at where they are, to see they’re No. 29 [in attendance] is inexcusable. Nobody can defend that." Here's more from today's column..
- The Red Sox have shown interest in Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt and have scouted him a few times. Boston likely wouldn't want to give up prospects for him but could offer an outfielder. Recently, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported that Colorado would have to be overwhelmed to part with the reliever.
- Jon Lester has been on Pirates' radar along with Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza but it doesn’t appear the Sox would move him unless they got an outstanding deal. Pittsburgh probably won't part with pitching prospect Gerrit Cole which makes a trade unlikely.
- The Mariners' Jason Vargas has emerged as a hot name for contending teams and one American League GM told Cafardo that teams were hoping to "slip in and take him for less than full value." Now, however, the M's know that he's in demand and won't just give him away. The Orioles, Blue Jays, Pirates, Cardinals, and Tigers are among teams that may have interest.
- The Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves have all scouted Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano, who Cafardo suggests should be traded before he falters again.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan will have to be blown away to part with outfielder Josh Willingham.
Teams are calling the Red Sox about potential trades involving Boston’s outfielders, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported earlier today. Here are some Red Sox-related notes as the team prepares for the second half...
- A National League GM called the Red Sox to inquire on Jon Lester a couple of weeks ago and was told Boston intends to win in 2012, Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets.
- Gammons recently suggested on 98.5 The Sports Hub that Lester could benefit from a change of scenery (transcript via the Boston Herald). “I just sense that Jon is so unhappy here that I’m sure it would be good for him,” Gammons said. But Lester said on Twitter that he loves Boston and is happy pitching for the Red Sox. “Nothing better than playing for the Red Sox,” he wrote. “Hope to be here for my entire career!”
- The Red Sox aren't going to trade David Ortiz this summer, so it's no surprise the slugger told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he hasn't thought about being dealt. “My name has never been mentioned in a trade, so why should I think about it? If I have to, I have to,” he said. Ortiz's ten and five rights allow him to block trades to any team, but he said he'd consider waiving no-trade protection under certain circumstances.
- The Red Sox are about $10MM over the luxury-tax threshold, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
The last time the Red Sox played a regular season game, they lost to the Orioles and the 2011 season ended in heart-breaking fashion. They'll look to start the 2012 season off with a win when they take on the defending AL Central champions in Detroit this afternoon. Here are some links in the meantime...
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said on WEEI that he didn't consider putting Daniel Bard back in the bullpen this spring, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (Twitter links). The Red Sox haven't made Bard promises going forward, but they view him as a starter for now.
- Former Red Sox scouting director David Chadd won't be watching when his current team and his former team open the season at Comerica Park today, according to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. "I'll be out trying to find another Jon Lester," said Chadd, who’s now a VP with the Tigers. Before Lester became a star in Boston, Chadd scouted and drafted him. "I saw a 6’4” left-hander with a great delivery with a good arm," Chadd said.
- Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe proposes that the Red Sox could have made Vicente Padilla their closer to keep relievers such as Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon in their previously-assigned roles. Manager Bobby Valentine says the save opportunities will go to Aceves for now, however. Be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter for the latest updates.