As tomorrow’s MLB trade deadline approaches, most people seem convinced that the Red Sox will trade lefty Jon Lester, rather than sign him to an extension.
It’s hard to believe that it has come to this, but here we are.
Tim Britton of the Providence Journal has a post with all the coverage his paper has done on the Lester situation since January, showing us the winding road this drama has taken.
The always excellent Alex Speier also looks at the Lester situation, and how 2014 has been about coming of age for the pitcher.
In many ways, the focus on where Lester ends up obscures a more significant story. How did Lester arrive at this point? How did he, over the course of 12 years, transform himself many times over into a pitcher who now is at the absolute zenith of his career, who looks like someone at the height of his powers and knows it?
The 2014 season marks a coming of age. It has been a year littered with potentially uncomfortable questions — about his contract talks with the Sox, about the possibility of being traded. Yet Lester has seemed more secure than ever in fielding those inquiries about what is happening around him off the field, and it is precisely because of his newfound comfort in who he is on the mound.
As always, it amazes me how Speier is just at another level with things like this and his analysis.
Lester has been in the consciousness of Red Sox fans since the Winter of 2003-04 when he, as a then a prospect, was being mentioned as part of a possible trade to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. In that case, it shows that sometimes it’s better not to give up the prospects for a player you think is the missing piece to your team.
Now, he’s on the A-Rod side of things, possibly being traded himself for younger, tantalizing prospects. But Lester is more than just another guy, we’ve seen him grow, we’ve seen him beat cancer, and come back to be the best pitcher on a World Series winning team.
It’s hard to know what is going on behind the scenes at Fenway. Who is calling this? Larry Lucchino? John Henry? Probably not Ben Cherington or John Farrell. I’d love to know what Cherington’s thoughts on this really are. Has Lucchino gone back to how he was when Theo Epstein finally had enough and walked out?
This really is more about the Red Sox and where they are than it is about Lester. Jon Lester is going to be fine, wherever he goes. But what about the Red Sox? If Lester is gone, the Red Sox are still here, and we have to deal with that. Are they in turmoil again?
Will the Globe smear Lester if the team trades him? While it doesn’t always happen, (it just seems that way) you have to believe they’d have a hard time coming up with material on him.
Let’s put away the notion that the Red Sox could trade him, get talent back and then sign him back here as a free agent come fall. If they can’t sign him now without any competition, how in the world are they going to sign him when teams like the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees or Mets are out there with open checkbooks?
Of course, they might not trade him at all, and end up signing him before he hits free agency which would render all the hand-wringing and anger completely moot.
I don’t know that I would bet on that outcome though.