MLB Trade Deadline 2014: Twitter Reacts to Trades, Fails, Surprises, Non-Deals

Whew. Everybody take a deep breath.

Thursday's MLB trade deadline was absolutely bonkers. Aces were exchanged. Sluggers shockingly changed teams. The trades just kept coming. It was breathless, exhilarating, exhausting and, in some cases, inconceivable.   

If you missed any of the wild and crazy trade action from deadline day, you can catch up with all of the day's transactions here, courtesy of CBSSports.com. Suffice to say, it was a busy afternoon.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports summed up the day's constant stream of trades:

The day started with a bang, as the Boston Red Sox traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes, a move that most folks wouldn't have anticipated. 

Lester himself responded to the news on Twitter:

At first glance, the deal seems like a win-win for both teams, per Buster Olney of ESPN:

But each side takes something out of the move. For the Athletics, the deal is a huge win in the present, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted:

Lester has been excellent this year, going 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 149 strikeouts. He gives the Athletics another ace and one who has plenty of postseason experience.

For the Red Sox, they gained a huge bat in exchange for a player they may have lost this winter anyway, per Fran Charles of the MLB Network:

The plan for the Sox was simple—they added a power bat they control for another season and could feasibly sign Lester this winter, basically allowing them to re-tool for a playoff push next season. Besides, they really, really needed a power bat, as Eric Karabell of ESPN tweeted:

With 17 home runs and 67 RBI this season, Cespedes will bring some pop to Boston in a more hitter-friendly park. 

The Sox weren't done, however, trading John Lackey and Corey Littrell to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. The Sox may be winning their fair share of 8-7 games this season, but they look to have really reloaded their lineup for next year while giving themselves the opportunity to improve the rotation through free agency over the winter.

It was another deal that benefited one club in the short term (the Cardinals, who get Lackey for their playoff push) and one club in the long term, per Passan:

But the biggest deal on the day, of course, was the three-team trade between the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners that sent David Price to the Tigers, Austin Jackson to the Mariners and Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to the Rays.

While the Rays got three intriguing players back in return for Price, Jason Catania of Bleacher Report thinks they could have done better:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today offers a different perspective on the deal:

Meanwhile, the Tigers are absolutely stacked, as SportsCenter on Twitter noted:

Oh, and they have Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez, too. It's sure looking like the American League is now a two-team race between the Athletics and Tigers.

Several other AL contenders were active as well on Thursday. The New York Yankees added Stephen Drew and Martin Prado from the rival Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively, while the Baltimore Orioles solidified the bullpen by acquiring Andrew Miller from Boston.

Clearly, the Yankees made upgrading the lineup a priority this trade deadline, as they also previously added Chase Headley to the fold. Joel Sherman of the New York Post broke down the moves:

Meanwhile, there was a mixed reaction to the Miller deal for the Orioles. Sherman was a fan:

Mark Bowman of MLB.com, on the other hand, thought Baltimore overpaid:

One thing is for certain—Ben Cherington, the Red Sox's general manager, had himself a day.

While things were a bit quieter in the National League for much of the day, three trades could shake up the NL East, as the Washington Nationals acquired shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves landed Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell from the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins nabbed young pitcher Jarred Cosart in a multi-player deal with the Houston Astros that saw last year's No. 6 pick, Colin Moran, go to Houston.

Very quietly, the Marlins could have one of the better rotations in the National League next season. 

Less quietly, several teams were noticeably absent from the trade deadline. From the buyer's perspective, this includes the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times provides some perspective on why the Dodgers avoided paying a premium for a top-of-the-line starting pitcher:

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, meanwhile, was just disappointed in the Pirates:

And then there were the Philadelphia Phillies. With a shoddy record and a number of high-priced veterans that surely attracted attention from around the league, the Phillies instead didn't make any moves and further delayed the rebuilding process. Rob Neyer of Grantland feels bad for Philly fans:

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly provides insight into general manager Ruben Amaro's plan:

Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer has more:

Does anybody have any idea what is happening in Philadelphia? What type of Kool-Aid is being served there? Will Phillies fans be subjected to another offseason where Amaro throws insane money at overrated veterans rather than actually rebuilding the Phillies for the future?

It sure seems that way. And in a crazy day of trades, the Phillies standing pat might just be the craziest thing of all.

Still, with so many notable moves from playoff contenders, there's no doubt the race for the postseason and the run to the World Series is going to be fantastic.

 

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Austin Jackson to Mariners: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Austin Jackson may not be headlining the blockbuster trade that sent him to the Seattle Mariners, but his teammates in Detroit let him know he's appreciated on the way out.

The Mariners made the move official:

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported Thursday that Jackson would head to Seattle as part of a three-team trade that sent ace David Price to the Tigers and Detroit starting pitcher Drew Smyly and Seattle second baseman Nick Franklin to the Rays:

Price, 28, was one of myriad star-level players who were traded before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver deadline. Red Sox pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey were sent to Oakland and St. Louis, respectively, per Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. Meanwhile, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was shipped to the Washington Nationals, per Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com.

The Tigers now have arguably the best one-two-three starting rotation in baseball with Price, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

But while trading Smyly and Jackson was a move general manager Dave Dombrowski had to make, it was clear the Tigers clubhouse took the news hard. After manager Brad Ausmus pulled Jackson midway through the seventh inning of Detroit's afternoon game with the Chicago White Sox, the 27-year-old left to a raucous standing ovation and embrace from nearly every teammate in the dugout.

Jackson has spent each of his five major league seasons in Detroit. The principal return in the Yankees' trade for Curtis Granderson in 2010, Jackson immediately became a mainstay in the Tigers clubhouse. He's played in at least 129 games in each of his previous four seasons and been an underrated contributor in the team's three straight AL Central crowns.

Jackson will head to Seattle, however, on pace for perhaps his worst professional season. He's batting .273/.332/.398 with four home runs and 33 RBI thus far in 100 appearances. FanGraphs also measures Jackson as having the worst defensive season of his career as well, though he's still roughly an average center fielder.

Looking positively, Jackson has been on something of a tear in July. He was batting .343 for the month coming into Thursday, smacking 10 doubles and looking more comfortable after Ausmus slotted him in the leadoff spot. 

“I don’t want to say it was a last resort,” Ausmus recently told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “After talking to Austin, I felt like the comfort of being in a spot that he was familiar with might be easier at this point.”

The Mariners and Jackson are going to have to assess their relationship quickly. Jackson is arbitration eligible this winter and can become a free agent in 2016—the same timeline as Price. It's likely the Rays chose to flip Price rather than keep him for that precise reason.

Franklin, though a non-elite prospect, is still only 23 years old and was a first-round pick in 2009. Tampa Bay has long had success working with other teams' talent and developing them into stars in the minors. Franklin spent 102 games with the Mariners last season but batted only .225/.303/.382 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI. He's fared much better this year in Triple-A Tacoma, so it'll be interesting to see how the Rays plan to bring him along.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan shared his reaction to the deal:

As for Jackson, he should immediately slot into Seattle's center field spot. The team has been been stuck using the unproven James Jones for fielding purposes of late, and Jackson will be a massive upgrade for a team in need of offensive help. The Mariners rank in the bottom 10 of nearly every major offensive category and were in danger of falling out of the wild-card race if they didn't make a move.

Jackson isn't a Price-level superstar, but he could be what they need to stay in the hunt.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Jarred Cosart to Marlins: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Houston Astros got in on the 2014 trade-deadline action with little time to spare, reportedly sending starting pitcher Jarred Cosart to the Miami Marlins as the centerpiece of a six-player deal.

MLB.com's Brian McTaggart first reported the news:

The Palm Beach Post's Joe Capozzi then reported the overall haul:

According to MLB.com, the non-waiver trade deadline was 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Cosart is 9-7 on the year with a 4.41 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 116.1 innings pitched. There is plenty of upside here for the Marlins, as the young right-hander burst onto the scene with a 1.95 ERA in 2013 and is still getting his bearings in major league ball.

Cosart was born and raised in Texas, so the move is a big one for him. He expressed his feelings on the trade to McTaggart:

It is clear the Astros are still working on fleshing out a solid roster and farm system. The rebuilding effort could take awhile.

The Marlins landed a potential gem in the form of Cosart. He will join young hurlers Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and the injured Jose Fernandez in a rotation that promises a bright future in South Florida.

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Martin Prado to Yankees: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The 55-52 New York Yankees just got some major help to close their 5.5-game gap with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. Just before Thursday's trade deadline, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports announced the team's acquisition of Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks:

Prado is predominantly a third baseman, but he's also accustomed to spending time at second base, shortstop, first base and in the outfield, making him the ultimate utility player.

So far this season, Prado is batting .270 with a .317 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage. He's accumulated 109 hits, 17 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 42 RBI in 402 at-bats.

Prado's new home won't be without at least one familiar face, as he's back in the same lineup as former Atlanta Braves teammate Brian McCann. David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave his thoughts on the reunion:

So what did the Yankees give up for their new utility player?

The team's official Twitter account revealed the trade details:

Peter O'Brien is a catching prospect who is known for his big bat. He's been tearing up the minor leagues with the Trenton Thunder so far this season, leading to some lofty comments from hitting coach Marcus Thames during an interview with Lynn Worthy of PressConnects.com.

Said Thames, "Pete has a tool that you can't teach, and that's power. Last year, he hit (22) and that was his first full season. His power is going to play. The thing is going to be consistency."

While the Yankees may have lost a fine prospect in O'Brien, this is certainly a team in win-now mode—the team is loaded with talent and has extra motivation due to this being the final season of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

The move gives New York the versatility to go on a late-season run and remain a legitimate threat to win the AL East.

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Twitter Reacts as David Price, Austin Jackson Are Traded in 3-Team Deal

The Detroit Tigers made a huge splash amid Thursday's MLB non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price in a three-team deal.    

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com first reported the big news:

Fox Sports 1's Jon Morosi provided the full details for the massive trade:

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski already bolstered the bullpen by landing Joakim Soria, but now he's added to a loaded starting pitching staff with Price entering the fold. Twitter has had plenty to say in light of this monumental deal.    

ESPN Stats & Info noted just how powerful the trio at the top of Detroit's rotation is, as Price joins Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander:

Baseball-Reference took the opportunity to point out just how nice Price is trending this season:

Sports finance expert Robert Raiola weighed in on what Price's deal means for the Tigers:

An interesting scene unfolded for one of the Detroit players involved in the blockbuster trade, per SportsCenter:

CBS Sports personality Doug Gottlieb weighed in on the bizarre situation:

Outfielder Austin Jackson now brings a hot bat to the Seattle Mariners, per Sportradio 950 KJR's Dave Mahler:

Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated and USA Today's Bob Nightengale feel the Mariners made out rather well by jumping into the Price sweepstakes:

But the biggest name in this deal is Price, of course. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com was in disbelief—along with many others—that Price was moved:

Rivals.com's Sean Callahan noted how this move by the American League Central-leading Tigers suggests they are chasing the AL's top team in the hunt for the Commissioner's Trophy in October:

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre feels it's a mere formality that the Tigers and Oakland Athletics will meet in the ALCS:

FanGraphs.com's David Cameron had a bit of a different take on the situation and how it pertains to Detroit beyond the 2014 campaign:

Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin felt the Rays could have netted more in return for such a pristine asset in Price:

Interestingly, Price thought he was out of the woods and off the trading block well before he was dealt:

After grinding away on a small-market team, though, this has to be one of the best-case scenarios Price could have possibly imagined in the event he was traded.

In a best-of-seven playoff series, Detroit suddenly has a phenomenal chance to win three of the requisite four games to clinch now that it has Price, Scherzer and Verlander dealing. Even though Verlander is in the midst of a slumping season, the Tigers also have Rick Porcello (12-5, 3.24 ERA) pitching extremely well, and veteran Anibal Sanchez has also been stellar.

Power pitching can intimidate even the most formidable lineups and bring them to their knees, especially in the playoffs. That is what Price and his MLB-leading 189 strikeouts bring to the table in Detroit. This strong of a staff will aid the Tigers' efforts to get over the hump and enhance their odds of winning their first World Series since 1984.  

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Emilio Bonifacio to Braves: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Emilio Bonifacio has been dealt to Atlanta Braves according to MLB Roster Moves:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports initially reported the deal:

Bonifacio's future has been hotly discussed over recent days, which ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick was as sure a sign as any that the trade deadline has reached the point of no return:

The San Francisco Giants were one of the teams rumored to be in for the 29-year-old. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported that the 2012 World Series champions wanted to get some help against left-handed pitching:

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle threw a wet blanket on the Bonifacio-to-SF rumors but did add that the outfielder would be on his way out of Chicago:

This certainly won't go down as the most earth-shattering deal wrapped up ahead of this year's deadline. At the time of writing, Bonifacio was hitting .279/.318/.373 and had stolen 14 stolen bases. His 1.3 WAR isn't otherworldly, but it's not terrible, either, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Since returning from the disabled list earlier in the month, Bonifacio has been on a tear, likely driving up his price tag and making him a more attractive option:

Bonifacio still boasts plenty of speed on the basepaths, is hitting for a high average and is a free agent at the end of the season. Not to mention he's a Swiss Army knife defensively. Atlanta could've done much worse at the deadline. 

You can understand why the Cubs dealt Bonifacio. Chicago isn't contending any time soon and Bonifacio's contract is up at the end of the season. The Cubbies gambled a bit when they offered him a minor-league deal. Now they've turned that minor-league deal into a return that can hopefully help the franchise going forward.

Meanwhile, Atlanta gets a piece to help during the critical stretch run to come.

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Austin Jackson Gets Standing Ovation from Detroit Crowd After Being Traded

Austin Jackson was playing center field one minute. Then heading to the clubhouse and saying goodbye to his teammates the next.

As Fox Sports' Jon Morosi tweeted on Thursday afternoon, Jackson was traded to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal that sent All-Star David Price to Detroit. Once the trade was agreed upon, the Tigers yanked Jackson from the game in the middle of the seventh inning.

The crowd at Comerica Park in Detroit recognized what was happening and gave Jackson a standing ovation as he left the field.

Jackson debuted in the majors with Detroit back in 2010 after he came over from the Yankees in a trade that involved another former Tigers fan favorite in center field, Curtis Granderson.

[MLB.com]

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Stephen Drew to Yankees: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The final moments of the trade deadline can make a team do strange things, like make a deal with a bitter rival.   

The New York Yankees did just that by acquiring shortstop Stephen Drew from the rival Boston Red Sox, just moments before the non-waiver deadline.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston first reported the deal was close:

ESPN's Buster Olney later confirmed the move:

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News passes along more details:

Jack Curry of YES Network and Feinsand provide Yankees GM Brian Cashman's comments on the deal:

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports Kelly Johnson will be sent as a return:

Drew has played 39 games this season for the Red Sox, but has only managed a .176 batting average to go with his four home runs. While he played a big role in the team's run to a World Series in 2013, the 31-year-old player was not as helpful in 2014.

This is the latest move in a fire sale for Boston before the deadline which has already seen deals to part with Jon Lester, John Lackey and more, per Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. This latest move brings in a versatile player with six home runs on the year who can add depth to the lineup.

Unfortunately, the team will have to wait for Johnson to return from injury, as noted by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

More importantly, the deal will now free up space for some of the younger players to get onto the field like Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will hope that Drew can provide some of his magic from last season and help upgrade the middle infield. Derek Jeter has done his best in his final season before retiring, but he still ranks just 26th in wins above replacement among major league shortstops (h/t ESPN.com).

Drew has not been any better this season, but he should be able to help the team out as a left-handed hitter who can help Jeter rest some more games. Additionally, his fielding is something you cannot overlook. Former teammate Jon Lester recently explained his value, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

The pitching staff in New York will love having a player with Drew's range in the middle infield.

Of course, the most interesting part of this deal is the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees were willing to negotiate a deal. As ESPN Stats & Info points out, this is not common:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports jokes that this will not change much:

Still, this deal adds another chapter to what has become one of the craziest deadlines in recent memory.

Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players, and their new teams can reap the benefits.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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What the San Francisco Giants Need to Right the Ship

The San Francisco Giants have been slowly crumbling over the last two months, going from a powerhouse team with the best record in baseball to a wild-card contender. Adjustments in August and September will determine whether the team will sneak into the playoffs or spend October watching their rivals compete on TV.

Trading top prospects Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar to the Boston Red Sox for starting pitcher Jake Peavy proved the Giants are serious about making a run at the postseason this year.

With an above-average starting rotation and hitters like Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Michael Morse denting outfield walls, San Francisco has the talent to erase the Los Angeles Dodgers' three-game lead in the National League West.

Getting into the playoffs won't be easy, though, and the Giants' sub-.500 record in June and July is a sign things must change. A lack of depth, long-term injuries and a refusal to promote the right prospects will keep them spiraling down if changes are not made.

 

Add Some Bench Offense

Tyler Colvin, he of the .223/.268/.381 batting line, has been the Giants' best option off the bench this year. After Colvin was optioned to Triple-A Fresno, the Giants' top pinch hitter might very well be starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who has more home runs than any healthy substitute position player.

Finding a cheap veteran bat in August would be huge for the Giants and shouldn't be too difficult (think Cody Ross in 2010). The Pittsburgh Pirates' pickup of Justin Morneau propelled them into the playoffs last year, and general manager Brian Sabean would be wise to make a similar move.

Proven hitters with expiring contracts on struggling teams will be shopped around the waiver wire after the trade deadline, and players like Josh Willingham, Casey McGehee and Adam Dunn could hit the market. Lesser options such as free agent Vernon Wells could still be an upgrade over the collection of Quadruple-A players on San Francisco's bench.

 

Stay Healthy

The Giants have caught the injury bug this year, losing key contributors like center fielder Angel Pagan, first baseman Brandon Belt and second baseman Marco Scutaro for extended periods of time. 

Second base has been particularly disastrous, as Ehire Adrianza, Joe Panik and recently released Brandon Hicks have all posted OPS numbers below .600. The Dan Uggla experiment is already looking like a failure, with the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman reporting the Giants will likely release him after an 0-11 start at the dish and three errors in the field:

Scutaro was activated from the 60-day disabled list a couple weeks ago but went back on the 15-day DL on July 25. During the short window when Scutaro was active, manager Bruce Bochy told Schulman the 38-year-old was still hampered by lingering back pain.

"With a day game, we’re better off with a younger guy who doesn’t have any issues," Bochy said.

Pagan was hitting .307/.356/.411 before a bulging disc in his back sent him to the DL on June 25. His return in the next couple weeks will send Gregor Blanco to the bench and allow Hunter Pence to move back to the middle of the lineup.

 

Call up Gary Brown

Seriously, how have the Giants not promoted the kid already? Brown, the team's first-round pick in the 2010 draft, rocketed through the minors before hitting a wall in Triple-A last year. Now that 25-year-old has proven his ability to hit Triple-A pitching, there is no reason he should stay down in Fresno.

Brown's .267 batting average and .323 on-base percentage are middling numbers, but his real value to the Giants is in his legs. The center fielder has swiped 22 bases this year, twice as many as Pagan's team-leading total.

Even if the Giants don't call up Brown before Pagan returns from the DL, his wheels will be helpful off the bench. Brown is also a solid defensive center fielder and would allow the Giants to hide Blanco's weak arm in left as Morse's backup.

Bochy told MLB.com's Chris Haft a lack of consistency was the only thing keeping Brown from the majors a month ago. His stats kept pace throughout July. It's time for San Francisco to pull him up.

 

Conclusion

The Giants are as top-heavy as they come right now. Players like Bumgarner, Posey and Tim Hudson make the team a real contender, but gaping holes exist under the surface layer.

Best-case scenario: Sabean acquires an extra bat or two, Uggla starts hitting again and the Giants overtake the Dodgers to win the division.

Worst-case scenario: San Francisco fails to fill its holes, Scutaro never quite gets healthy and the Giants miss out on the playoffs. Peavy leaves the team in free agency, and Hembree and Escobar remind everyone of the Carlos Beltran/Zach Wheeler deal.

Realistic outcome: Giants pick up a veteran bat, but Scutaro never quite makes it all the way back, and Sabean can't find a solid second baseman in a thin market. Giants win the second wild-card spot but lose in the first round.

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Jon Lester Trade Shows Athletics Are All-in to Win 2014 World Series

The Oakland Athletics are not hedging their bets or looking forward to next season. By acquiring Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox in a blockbuster trade also featuring Yoenis Cespedes, Billy Beane and Co. are moving forward with a singular focus: the 2014 World Series.

Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports the full deal will see Lester, Jonny Gomes and cash considerations head west in exchange for Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick. It was the first blockbuster on a very active day around Major League Baseball.

Lester is a true ace. The lefty sports a 2.52 ERA through 21 starts this season while striking out more than a batter per inning. He will join a rotation that already featured Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir to create a group capable of matching up with anybody.

It's a deal that definitely comes with a lot of risk, however.

The three-time All-Star is slated to hit the free-agent market at season's end. When you combine the fact a trade means he won't be tied to compensation and the need for pitching around the league, he's likely to command a monster deal this winter.

Of course, the Athletics under Beane are well known for spending their more limited resources in a much different manner than other teams building contenders. It's the topic of the Moneyball book and film. So it's hard to imagine them making a gigantic splash with a long-term deal for Lester.

Cespedes is under team control for another season. Oakland could have kept him and his 25-homer power, giving it another key chip as it looks ahead next season.

Instead, the A's decided to swing the marquee deal for a player many teams were tracking in hopes it swings the balance of power in their favor.

The emergence of Stephen Vogt along with Gomes being part of the deal should help them offset the loss of Cespedes to an extent. Whatever difference there is will be more than made up by the fact Lester is now in the rotation.

He sounds ready for the new challenge:

One thing the left-hander definitely brings to the table is a playoff pedigree. In 13 career postseason appearances, 11 of which are starts, he holds a 2.11 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He has also struck out 68 batters over 76.2 innings.

ESPN Stats and Info notes the numbers are even better in the World Series alone:

It all adds up to an extremely intriguing group: an offense that leads baseball with 535 runs, 18 more than any other team; a starting rotation that won't have a weakness if everybody can stay healthy for the playoffs; and a solid bullpen led by closer Sean Doolittle.

The Athletics have been knocked out of the playoffs in the division series by the Detroit Tigers each of the past two years. They have made the postseason seven times since 2000 but were unable to reach the World Series in any of those trips.

Oakland was good, especially considering its inability to spend at the same level as other championship hopefuls, but not quite good enough. The moves made in recent weeks, highlighted by the Lester addition, could very well change that.

Perhaps Beane and his A's will finally win the last game of the season. They certainly went all out to make that outcome a distinct possibility.

 

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David Price to Tigers: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

David Price, often cited alongside Evan Longoria as the two cornerstones in the Tampa Bay Rays' rise from the basement to the top of the AL East, is headed to Detroit. The Rays traded Price to the Tigers in a three-team deal on Thursday, with the paperwork being filed just before MLB's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline.

The Tigers made the deal official:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the news:

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times quickly followed with more on the deal:

Matthew Mowery of The Oakland Press has more on the dialogue between the Rays and Tigers:

Topkin reported Price's thoughts on the deal:

"It's tough to put into words,'' he said. "There's absolute sadness. This is where I've been the last seven years.''

Price said he did not expect the Tigers to be a potential destination — "It happened fast and unexpectedly' — but he was confident he could adjust to "a new chapter" in his life. "I'm still playing baseball ... which is what I know and what I love,'' he said.

The Tigers come to the Trop Aug. 19-21, and Price could end up pitching against his old mates. "That'd be crazy,'' he said. "That'd be cool.''

Topkin also has thoughts from Tampa Bay's front office:

In addition to the prospects sent to Tampa Bay, the Rays also landed Tigers left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly. The deal also included the Seattle Mariners, who got Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson.

Smyly Tweeted after the move:

Thursday's trade culminates more than a year of "will they or won't they" for Tampa Bay.

With Price arbitration eligible for only one more season—and due for a massive contract when he hits the market—many viewed his July exit as an inevitability as the Rays scuffled to start the season. But an excellent July and the continued struggles of the AL East gave some hope that the team would wait until winter with hopes of making one more World Series push.

Then the market started heating up.

The Cubs and Red Sox in particular saw excellent hauls in trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and John Lackey and Jon Lester, respectively. After Boston pulled the trigger on a Lester trade that brought back All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the Rays ramped their own efforts for a similar return.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the Pirates, Dodgers, Mariners and Tigers all had contact with the Rays on Thursday. 

Bleacher Report's Scott Miller reports more on another potential suitor:

Price, 28, is in the midst of another outstanding season. He joins Detroit with a 11-8 record, 3.11 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. After years of seeing his strikeout rate slowly drop, the lefty if fanning more than a batter per inning for the first time in his career. With the small-market Rays having little chance of retaining someone of his caliber in free agency, general manager Andrew Friedman saw the buyer's market and took advantage of his remaining leverage. 

Friedman has continually restocked the farm system by acquiring other teams' top prospects. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers came over in the James Shields trade in 2012 and Chris Archer was part of the 2011 Matt Garza deal with the Cubs. 

"I think, in a lot of ways, it's our only chance for success," Friedman told Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. "The trades that we've made, looking back, the only reason we got good players in return is because we traded really good players. And so it's important for us to know what our weaknesses are and what our limitations are and operate within them."

Even if the next crop of prospects join Archer and Myers as integral pieces, it's still tough to move a homegrown talent like Price. He was the Rays' No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, and has rewritten the club record book en route to becoming one of the most respected pitchers in baseball.

Price is the Rays' all-time leader in ERA, WHIP and winning percentage. He's second behind only Shields on the club's all-time wins leaderboard. In 2012, he became the first player in Tampa Bay history to win a major postseason award, taking home the Cy Young. Couple that with his four All-Star team honors, and you'll have a tough time finding a player who has meant more to a franchise since Price's debut.

In typical Rays fashion, they're probably striking at the perfect time. Price would not have nearly the same value with only one year of team control. The Rays also watched on last winter when teams chose to chase free agents over offering a massive prospects package for their ace. With more teams than ever in the playoff race, the market created a perfect storm. 

Still, we're talking about David Price.

Despite losing more than two miles per hour off his fastball in the past two seasons, per FanGraphs, he's found a way to stay on top of his game. He pitched to contact a ton in 2013, but has learned how to miss bats by becoming perhaps the baseball's best control pitcher.  

Price is walking only 1.21 batters per nine innings, a rate that only makes his strikeout total all the more impressive. When he put up a similarly low number last season, it was possible to theorize a mindset change from his early career. It turns out Price has learned to navigate the best of both worlds—something he and his representation will surely highlight when it's time for contract negotiations.

Some of his peripheral numbers even suggest he was getting a bit unlucky this season in Tampa. It's possible that he becomes the single-best player to exchange hands at the deadline since C.C. Sabathia in 2008. 

Either way, this is a necessary evil for both sides. Detroit walks away having lost elite young prospects, while the Rays say goodbye to one of their franchise cornerstones.   

 

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Tampa Bay Rays Trading David Price to Detroit Will Make AL East 2-Horse Race

Tampa Bay has waved the white flag on 2014, as FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and the New York Post's Joel Sherman are reporting that the Rays have traded David Price to the Detroit Tigers:

As a result, the American League East will become a two-team race over the next two months.

Baltimore's hot streak following the All-Star break kept Tampa Bay at a distance, as the Rays couldn't gain more than 1.5 games on the Orioles despite an 11-2 record to start the second half of the season.

Tampa Bay currently sits eight games out of first place.

Without Price pitching every fifth day the rest of the way, the Rays' 8.7 percent chance of making the playoffs will only decrease.

Toronto is just 2.5 games behind Baltimore. The Blue Jays have recovered from a lapse before the break to win 10 of 13 without Edwin Encarnacion, who is still working his way back from a quad injury.

Neither Baltimore nor Toronto has a formidable starting rotation. Both rank among MLB's worst. At least Baltimore improved a solid bullpen—FanGraphs indicates it ranks 10th in ERA, 20th in fielding independent pitching (FIP) and 12th in expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP)—by acquiring Andrew Miller from Boston, as reported by ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

However, Toronto and Baltimore's offenses have the sustainable firepower to thwart challengers like the New York Yankees and Price-less Rays as the regular season winds down.

Baltimore ranks second in the majors in home runs with 129. Only Toronto, at 130, ranks ahead of the Orioles. The Blue Jays' .335 weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the second-highest mark in baseball, and they rank third in OPS (.760) while the Orioles are seventh (.726).

The offenses have helped both teams attain favorable postseason outlooks. ESPN.com suggests Baltimore and Toronto have a 70.5 and 56.3 percent chance, respectively, of making the playoffs.

Though the Yankees' pitching staff has absorbed the losses of 80 percent of the Opening Day rotation, the odds are against Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene maintaining their performance level. Hiroki Kuroda broke down at this time last year, and David Phelps is David Phelps.

The offense has been dormant all year long, and the Texas series reminded the division just how impotent the Yankees could be—the Bronx Bombers mustered just two runs off Colby Lewis on Wednesday.

As for Tampa Bay, the starting rotation has outperformed the offense, which has produced just 421 runs (19th in MLB). Rays starters have combined for a 3.60 ERA (ninth in MLB) but a 3.50 FIP (fourth) and 3.56 xFIP (fifth).

Losing Price—3.11 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 2.73 xFIP—obviously reduces those numbers.

Even though Tampa Bay has four solid starters left in the rotation, none are as dominant as the southpaw. The offense simply doesn't have the pieces to clean up a starter's mess, and that will keep the club out of the race.

As Baltimore and Toronto separate themselves from the rest of the division, baseball fans will be treated to a passel of meaningless games as the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox battle for third place.

 

Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Just ahead of the MLB trade deadline on Thursday, two-time All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been dealt from the Cleveland Indians to the Washington Nationals in exchange for prospect Zach Walters.

Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reported the trade on Twittter:

The Indians confirmed the reports:

Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post provides more on the Nationals side of the deal:

Cabrera has put together a decent season thus far with the Indians, hitting .246 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 97 games played. The shortstop has also been hobbled by injuries this season, but has still performed well on the field.   

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports offers his musings on the trade:

Hoynes also passes along information on Walters:

Prior to the deal going through, Cabrera spoke about his thoughts on potentially being moved, per Hoynes:

That's what (GM Chris Antonetti) told me and that's why I'm not thinking much about it. I just want to finish my year here and see what happens.

... I've got my mind here with this team. I want to do my best, play hard and finish my season here. That's all.

His mind will now have to be with Washington as he helps the club chase down a playoff spot.

Cabrera not only provides a good bat, but also great defense in the infield. While the Nationals wait to hear more about Ryan Zimmerman's injury status moving forward, Cabrera offers an option at shortstop or second base.

While Walters provides an option at shortstop, he can play a multitude of positions for the Indians. The future for the franchise is Francisco Lindor, a shortstop prospect that has a smooth bat and is a rangy defender.

Both teams come away with good assets as they build toward the future. For the Nationals, that future is coming in a few months. For the Indians, it appears to be next year.

 

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Grading the Trade That Sent Red Sox Ace John Lackey to the Cardinals

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired starting pitcher John Lackey (along with pitching prospect Corey Littrell and cash considerations) from the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig.

Who do you think got the better deal? What grades would you give each team?

Watch as B/R's Lead MLB Columnist Scott Miller grades the trade for both teams involved.

*All stats accurate as of July 30, 2014.

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Andrew Miller to Orioles: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Boston Red Sox continue to be sellers ahead of the MLB trade deadline, moving left-hander Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Eduardo Rodriguez.   

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first reported the news:

Peter Gammons confirmed the report:

Many speculated that Miller would be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and this isn't a situation foreign to him. The 29-year-old was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the then-Florida Marlins in 2007 as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal. Three years later, the Marlins sent him to Boston for Dustin Richardson.

"It’s different this time because I’m older and more established," Miller said, per The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham. "But that’s the life of a reliever. You could be traded pretty quickly. I’m aware of it but I don’t spend a lot of time reading the stories or worrying about it."

For most of his career, Miller failed to follow through on the promise he showed coming out of North Carolina. He was the sixth overall draft pick in 2006 and looked like somebody who could anchor a team's rotation for the next decade.

Instead, Miller flamed out as a starting pitcher, compiling a 20-27 record and a 5.70 ERA in 66 major league starts, according to Baseball-Reference.com. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was a paltry 1.40.

Since moving to the bullpen, Miller has had a career resurgence. His ERA has dropped roughly two full runs, and his SO/BB ratio has risen to a much more respectable number in 165-plus relief appearances. The lefty has been particularly filthy this year, so the interest in his services was unsurprising. 

Fox Sports' Gabe Kapler thinks that Miller has performed equally to if not better than the much higher-regarded Koji Uehara this year:

With the Red Sox last in the American League East and Miller's contract up at the end of the year, it made sense that they traded him despite all of his success on the mound.

ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes thinks Miller could almost single-handedly propel a team to the Fall Classic:

That may seem like an overstatement, but Uehara was among Boston's most important players as it won the 2013 World Series. Having a trusted arm for late-inning, high-pressure situations can be an invaluable asset in the postseason.

The Orioles still have plenty of work to do if they're going to make the playoffs, but getting Miller only furthers that goal. Meanwhile, the Red Sox traded away an impending free agent for a couple of pieces that could help them down the line.

It's a logical deal for both sides in that regard. As for Miller, he joins his fourth MLB team riding a nice wave of success that he'll look to continue with an eye on his next contract.

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MLB Trades 2014: Grades and Analysis for Latest Deadline Deals

One things is abundantly clear at the 2014 MLB trade deadline: Billy Beane is willing to do whatever it takes.

The Oakland Athletics general manager is all in on a 2014 World Series crown. He's been around the league long enough to know that you can ride a deep pitching staff all the way to a title and is loading up on starting talent, even at the expense of losing a fan favorite.

According to Jane Lee of MLB.com, the A's traded Yoenis Cespedes and a Competitive Balance pick to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and cash.

The Boston Red Sox were also involved in as separate blockbuster, trading starting pitcher John Lackey, minor-league lefty Corey Littrell and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly, per Ian Browne of MLB.com.

Here is a list of grades for the latest deals coming in just under the wire, followed by analysis of the more prominent moves.

 

Analysis

Here is what Oakland has acquired in starting pitching this month. 

Jason Hammel hasn't fared well in Northern California, which might have pressured Beane to go for Lester.

The big trade has to sting a bit for Athletics fans, giving up a delightful all-around player in Cespedes, who routinely amazes with his Howitzer of an arm and heavy bat.

It's a great bit of business for the Red Sox in picking up a right-handed power bat—Cespedes has launched 17 homers this year—to back up David Ortiz in the lineup, especially one that is under contract through the end of 2015.

Cespedes' could also turn quite a few of those off-the-Green Monster doubles into outs—or at least hold some players to singles—with his strong arm in left field.

ESPN's Buster Olney did wonder what the trade meant for one budding Red Sox star:

Boston gets the better rating, due to the fact that Lester could very easily return to the team if the A's utilize him purely as a rental. Lester has expressed a desire to play in Boston, despite the contract impasse.

"Yeah, why not?'' Lester said earlier in July, via Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. "I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand."

Oakland did pretty well to mitigate the damage by picking up Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld in separate trades; both players have played for the Athletics in the past. However, the piecemeal approach and their combined age (65) means Beane will have to unearth promising outfield talent over the next couple of seasons.

Tommy Milone should be quite happy with his move, as he will have plenty of opportunity to work his way into a prominent role in the Minnesota Twins organization after being relegated to Triple-A status in Oakland, a minor casualty of the pitching trades made by Beane.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick liked the pickup for the Twins:

The Red Sox deserve further kudos for nabbing plenty of talent in giving up Lackey, a 35-year-old righty currently sporting a 3.60 ERA.

Allen Craig is a fine hitter mired in essentially a season-long slump; he's batting .237 but hit over .300 in the three seasons prior to this one.

Joe Kelly is just 26 years old and, although he is having a down year, could very easily revitalize his play in Boston and return to the form that propelled him to a 10-5 record with a 2.65 ERA in 2013.

That's not to say this is a trade the Cardinals shouldn't have made. They have their own championship aspirations after finishing as runners-up last season, and the recently-acquired Justin Masterson is no sure success story.

Lackey can help eat innings and save a tiring Cardinals bullpen; he's thrown seven or more innings in 10 starts this season. 

It's interesting to see the Athletics and Red Sox in something of a role reversal at this deadline. The low-budget Athletics are making moves with a short-term impact and an eye for winning now.

Many small-market teams don't have the luxury of a crafty general manager like Beane. The astronomical plus-162 run differential also puts considerable pressure on this team to live up to its historically great numbers.

Meanwhile the Red Sox, less than one season removed from winning 97 games and the World Series, are the ones busy selling off players and looking toward a crop of young talent and minor leaguers to reboot. 

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out the historic nature of the fire sale:

Beantown can and will bounce back—likely sooner rather than later—with the big budget, winning tradition and talented farm system.

Beane will be hard-pressed to assemble a roster like the one he has this season, especially with Josh Donaldson's looming expiring contract. It's World Series or bust in Oakland.

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David Price Shouldn’t Be Moved by Rays at MLB Trade Deadline

There may come a time when cutting ties with David Price would make the most sense for the Tampa Bay Rays. Heck, that time very likely will be this offseason, with Price primed to earn the big bucks.

But the moment to say goodbye to their ace is not before the MLB trade deadline. 

There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that the Rays are still very much in the postseason hunt. Yes, at 53-55, they are still eight games back in the AL East, but they are just 5.5 games back in the wild-card chase. 

More importantly, they're red hot. They've now won 11 of their last 13 games, and we've all witnessed September magic from this team before.

Just ask the 2011 Boston Red Sox

Plus, Price can't become a free agent until after the 2015 season, though it seems unlikely arbitration would go well for the Rays this winter. And Price will probably want more than the one-year, $14-million deal he signed this past season. 

But the fact that they can deal Price in the offseason—and yes, MLB teams would still be quite interested in dealing for him—means the Rays can afford to make a run at the postseason with Price this year and deal him in the winter. 

Losing Price would likely kill their postseason hopes. Price is once again one of the best pitchers in the American League, with a 11-8 record, 3.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 189 strikeouts in 170.2 innings pitched. Throwing in the towel right now simply doesn't make sense. 

But just because the Rays shouldn't trade Price doesn't mean they won't. Joel Sherman of the New York Post is hearing the ace, indeed, will be dealt:

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports 1 adds another team to the mix:

And Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has more:

Meanwhile, coming into the day, Jayson Stark of ESPN heard from several executives about how the Rays would approach the Price situation:

Not that the asking price had come down. That part hasn't appeared to change appreciably since Wednesday, when another exec said the return would have to be a package so loaded that 'they couldn't say no.'

An American League executive described the Rays' approach this way: 'They know what they want to do,' he said at one point. 'If they get what they want, they'll do it in a heartbeat," he said at another point. "They want to do a deal, but they're not going to do it under value,' he said at a third juncture.

Give Price this—he's had a good sense of humor about the whole thing. 

By the end of the trade deadline, we'll certainly know how the Rays view the rest of this season. If he's dealt, the team is throwing in the towel and building toward next year. If he isn't moved, however, the team has decided to make a push for the postseason. 

It's a big decision, and even if the Rays want to keep him, they may receive an offer they simply can't refuse. More than likely he'll be dealt, but the Rays would be wise to keep him barring an absolutely huge return.

 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest News on Potential Joaquin Benoit Deals and More

The trade deadline is upon us, and the rumors are coming in hot and heavy. Some deals have already completed Thursday and more should be on the way.

Here's three of the hottest stories to follow with a special concentration on the San Diego Padres.

 

Joaquin Benoit Possibly on the Move

With John Lackey already dealt from the Boston Red Sox to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, per Peter Gammons of the MLB Network, the Los Angeles Dodgers have apparently set their sights on bolstering their bullpen.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Dodgers have their eye on San Diego's 37-year-old reliever, Joaquin Benoit. The veteran's contract situation is manageable.

Benoit isn't an unrestricted free agent until 2017. He's owed $2 million this season and $8 million for next year, but there is a club option for 2016.

In 42 appearances this season, Benoit has amassed a sparkling 1.88 ERA and an 0.84 WHIP. He's also averaging 9.81 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. His presence could help solidify the Dodgers bullpen, which has been one of the few problematic areas for the team.

Los Angeles currently ranks just 21st in the major leagues in bullpen ERA and 17th in batting average against for its relievers. Brian Wilson, Pat Maholm and Chris Perez have all struggled to ERAs well over 4.50.

Grouped with J.P. Howell and Brandon League, Benoit could give the Dodgers a third dependable setup man to get the ball to the team's closer, Kenley Jansen. 

After spending his first eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, Benoit has been well travelled. The Dodgers—or any other team Benoit is traded to—would be his fourth club since 2010. 

 

Chris Denorfia Getting Attention from Mariners and Braves

The Seattle Mariners are apparently still interested in Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, but if they don't complete a trade for the coveted veteran, then Chris Denorfia appears to be the backup plan.

Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mariners wouldn't be alone in their pursuit of the Padres' 34-year-old veteran outfielder.

Denorfia would be a definite downgrade from Rios for the Mariners as it pertains to offense, but he could provide excellent defense. Though he's hitting just .242 with one home run this season, Denorfia has committed just one error in 94 games.

He can play every outfield position. Because of his versatility, he could find some at-bats with the Mariners' light-hitting outfield group.

In Atlanta, Denorfia's at-bats wouldn't be as plentiful playing behind the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., as well as right fielder Jason Heyward, who is dealing with a bad back, but should be fine, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

Still, Denorfia's could be a late-inning defensive replacement, a pinch runner or a valuable veteran clubhouse presence. His current manager had nothing but good things to say about him at the end of last season.

Per Corey Brock of MLB.com, manager Bud Black said:

When you say heart and hustle, there are a couple guys that come to mind, but Deno is right there with them. Every day that he comes to the ballpark, he comes in fresh. ... People around the league -- other managers, coaches, players -- have a great deal of respect for Deno.

Those words appear to be ringing true as at least two teams vie for Denorfia's services to close the 2014 season.

Denorfia is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, so the team that lands him could be renting him for only the stretch run.

 

Andrew Miller Drawing Interest from Multiple Teams

Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller is on the wish list of almost every team in the market for a proven left-handed reliever, per Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet

The 29-year-old has been solid and consistent this season, especially in the last two months. In June and July, Miller allowed just two earned runs in each month. He also struck out 16 batters in both months, as well.

His ERA for the season is 2.34 in 42.1 innings, and his WHIP is just 0.90.

The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates would do well to acquire a specialist in the midst of such a strong season for the stretch run. Miller has spent the last 3.5 seasons with Boston and has really come into his own since 2012.

He is a free agent at the end of the season and could return to Boston during the offseason. Per Rob Bradford of WEEI 93.7 in Boston, Miller wouldn't close the door on a potential return to Beantown.

He said:

I completely understand the way the game works. It’s not a grudge. I’ve loved my time here and I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to an end in the next couple of days, but if it does it won’t spoil it for me. If it does I’m certainly not going to burn a bridge on the way out of town. There’s value to us for both of us, so by no means will I close out that angle.

The Red Sox would do well to keep in touch.

 

All stat references per Baseball-Reference.com.

All contract information per Spotrac.

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Boston Red Sox Will Come out on Top in Jon Lester-Yoenis Cespedes Trade

The Red Sox wisely dealt Jon Lester Thursday morning in a trade that positions them better for the future.

Not three years down the road but next year.

Boston acquired Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes in exchange for Lester and Jonny Gomes. The Red Sox also received a competitive balance pick, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

Lester will be nothing more than a rental for the Athletics, who cannot afford to compete for the free-agent-to-be in the open market. On the other hand, Cespedes is under contract through 2015, and Lester has said he wants to return to Boston.

As the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham noted, Boston's offseason pursuit of Lester could be fruitless. Suitors will not need to forfeit a draft pick if they sign Lester, as a result of Thursday's trade.

But Boston still has as good a chance as anyone to re-sign its former ace—maybe an even better chance.

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness. There’s some guys, that drives them. That’s great,” Lester told WEEI.com's Alex Speier on Sunday. “For me, I want to be happy. I want to be comfortable. I want to be in a place that wants me and appreciates what I do.”

If Lester stays true to those words, Boston could re-sign the southpaw, who is having the best season of his career. His 2.62 FIP, 3.03 xFIP, 2.01 walks per nine innings and 1.12 WHIP are all career-bests. 

Even if Lester accepts a lucrative contract in Los Angeles, New York or some other big market this offseason, Boston will have received more than it would have by keeping Lester. Cespedes is under contract next year and the Red Sox received a draft pick, albeit a slightly worse pick than they would have gotten if Lester left them for another team in free agency.

Boston's lineup has been impotent, with the exception of David Ortiz. The offense ranks 20th in the majors with a 10.3 WAR, 17th with a .309 wOBA and 21st with 91 wRC+, as per Fangraphs.

Cespedes has accounted for 2.3 wins above replacement. His .332 wOBA isn't great but it's better than Boston's collective clip, and he has produced 113 wRC+.

Of course, by dealing Lester and John Lackey, Boston waved the white flag for 2014. Cespedes cannot transform the Red Sox into a playoff team this year. Nor can Allen Craig and Joe Kelly—the two returns for Lackey from St. Louis, as reported by Peter Gammons.

The Athletics, meanwhile, will be a popular pick to win the World Series this fall.

This trade is also great for them. They won't be able to pay Cespedes in free agency, and he's not as snug of a fit in their system as Billy Beane had initially hoped.

Lester strengthens their chances of avoiding the Wild Card game, and has excelled in the postseason—especially the World Series—throughout his career.

But Boston has to be thrilled with the return.

Cespedes and Ortiz will give the Red Sox a formidable heart of the order next year. Craig's well-documented struggles in 2014 were preceded by three years of success at the dish. His .281 BABIP in contrast to his career .330 BABIP indicates a resurgence could be around the corner. And Joe Kelly's 3.72 xFIP suggests he has actually been better than last year, when he broke through with a 10-5 record and 2.69 ERA but 4.19 xFIP, as per Fangraphs.

And then there's always the chance Lester re-signs with the Red Sox.

Based on his comments, Lester seems rather intent on returning to Boston. If that happens this offseason, Boston walks away from this deal as a prescient, unequivocal winner.

All statistics are courtesy of Fangraphs, unless otherwise noted.

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