There’s this notion that if and when the Red Sox trade Jon Lester, John Lackey, or Andrew Miller, that means they won’t have a playoff-caliber team on the field next season.
Why would the Red Sox choose not to compete for a second consecutive season?
Of course they would compete.
They would use the $70 million of salary relief, the bevy of prospects and their own prospects they receive over the next couple of days and in the Jake Peavy deal, and flip them for established players.
How to get to that place will require tough decisions on players, and one of them is Lester.
The Red Sox may have flubbed it up by offering the four years at $70 million and then having Lester’s side leak it to the media, but wouldn’t you counter that with something?
There’s been no number from the Lester side. Even Lester’s agents, the Levinsons, told ESPNBoston that.
Both sides usually start with a low-ball offer and a high-ball offer and then you negotiate. That’s what happens in negotiations.
According to Red Sox sources there was never a counter-offer. So what does that mean? Did Lester not want his offer leaked to the media? Did he not want to be here?
Put a number down. If he wanted five years at $125 million, then tell the Red Sox. According to the Red Sox, they tried to engage in more talks but Lester’s representatives decided not to do that and wanted to wait for the end of the season.
Why would the Red Sox wait until the end of the season if they don’t know what it would take to sign him? So what choice do they have but to be in the position they’re in right now, on the verge of trading Lester?
Orioles general manager Dan Duquette Wednesday indicated how much he liked Lester as a player. From there, he engaged in day-long talks with the Red Sox to acquire him.
There are a hundreds of reports out there at this time of the year, but this much we know — the Orioles’ interest was serious. The talks with the Red Sox were serious.
The Red Sox, according to one major league source, were asking for a major league player and two prospects for Lester from all the suitors out there, which also included Oakland. They were also making Lackey available, and he was garnering interest from teams such as Kansas City, Miami, and Pittsburgh, who were also in on Lester.
The Giants, who acquired Peavy last weekend, were also in the hunt for another arm, and Lackey was also mentioned.
The Cardinals were in it, but they elected to go a cheaper route and got Justin Masterson from the Indians. The Royals and Marlins inquired about Lackey, and they could still be fluid Thursday.
In the Baltimore scenario, MLB. com reported that Miguel Gonzalez, a righthander the Red Sox once had in their farm system, was one of the pieces Baltimore was willing to deal, but it was keeping Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman off limits.
The Red Sox inquired about Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, but they seemed to get push-back from the Marlins on that.
The Red Sox also have called the Phillies, according to a major league source, on starter Cole Hamels, but the Phillies’ demands were considered quite high.
Hamels seems to fit Boston’s salary structure for pitchers 30 and older with four years (plus an option) in a deal that averages about $22.5 million per year. The Phillies have had problems dealing their players. Sources have indicated that the Phillies have asked for four or five prospects for Hamels and that doesn’t seem plausible.
In addition, there is some interest in the Red Sox’ Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli. Napoli has a swollen finger as a result of a dislocation while sliding into second earlier this year, and it has bothered him off and on.
“It’s not a big deal,” Napoli said. “I’ve had it most of the year. I play with it.”
In other words, teams should not consider that a deal-breaker. But the Red Sox appear to want Napoli back for next season, as they do Miller and Koji Uehara.
Miller has been popular among teams looking for bullpen help. Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and many others have been calling the Red Sox concerning his availability. Miller is a free agent-to-be, so it may behoove the Red Sox to deal him, but they’re also looking at next year.
That’s why not everybody is leaving Dodge before the deadline. There has to be someone left to build around.
How the Red Sox rebuild will be the most fascinating aspect of this.
If they want outfielders — Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Nick Markakis, Alex Rios, and Cuban Yasmani Tomas are free agents. There’s Chase Headley, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval for infielders. As for pitchers, Jason Hammel, Ervin Santana, James Shields, Masterson, and Jorge De La Rosa will be out there.
None of them as good as Lester — except for Max Scherzer — who is looking for a six- or seven-year deal that could get into the $175 million range.
Shields is a bulldog, and he likely could be had on a four-year deal.
The trade market for pitchers is tough. The Phillies may eventually move Hamels and Cliff Lee. Ian Kennedy also could be had. Old standbys Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett will be out there. Mark Mulder will attempt his second comeback.
It really looks like shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is going somewhere if he tells the Rockies he no longer wants to play in Colorado, and we hear Boston and New York would be preferred destinations.
The Sox’ rebuild will be different than it was after 2012 because there will be more reliance on their prospects. After 2012, they didn’t have enough of them, so they signed seven free agents and hit on all of them to win their third championship in 10 years.
So the philosophy has changed.
You’ll only see over-30 guys if they sign Victorino/Napoli types, good players who will accept short contracts. It creates a lot of turnover, but it’s also good business.
Lester is Ted Kennedy and Tip O’Neill right now. The polls overwhelmingly favor the Red Sox keeping him. The likelihood is he’s going to be traded for a bunch of prospects, which leaves the Red Sox with Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Brian Johnson, and Henry Owens as available pitchers.
The Red Sox will field a team in 2015, just like they did in 2013. And that turned out pretty well.