Jon Lester faces the prospect of changing teams for the first time in his Major League Baseball career after nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox. The odds are he won’t be alone as baseball’s trade deadline looms.
Online sportsbook Bovada.lv has set a line for the number of trades completed before today’s 4 p.m. New York time deadline at 10 1/2, allowing bettors to wager on whether there will be more or fewer than the over/under.
There were eight trades on July 31 last season, the most notable being pitcher Ian Kennedy joining the San Diego Padres from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2012, there were 14 trades on deadline day, with Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Jonathan Broxton among those changing teams.
Lester was scratched ahead of his scheduled start last night against the Toronto Blue Jays as interest swirled around the 30-year-old left-hander, who has a 110-63 career record with a 3.64 earned run average for the Red Sox.
“Tough situation to be in but it’s what we sign up for and I find comfort knowing we’re in this together!” Lester, who has a 6-4 postseason record and is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in the World Series, wrote yesterday on his Twitter account.
Nine months after winning the World Series, the Red Sox are in last place in the American League East division and in position to be sellers at the trade deadline. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners are among those teams contending for a playoff spot who might be interested in parting with prospects for Lester, who is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and will become a free agent after this season.
“Any team that gets him, they’re getting a postseason warrior,” said MLB Network analyst John Hart, a former general manager of the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers. “Boston’s decision is going to be, ‘If we trade Lester now, can we re-sign him again in the winter and can we pick up one or two top-flight prospects in return?’”
Other veteran pitchers who might be available ahead of today’s deadline include Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies, Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets, John Lackey of the Red Sox and John Danks of the Chicago White Sox.
Non-pitchers who could be traded include Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn and Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Byrd, 36, was traded to the Pirates from the Mets last August and helped Pittsburgh make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. He’s played for seven teams over his 13-year career and is hitting .270 with 20 homers and 60 runs batted in for the Phillies this season.
“He’s one of those guys who can fit in wherever he goes,” MLB Network analyst Sean Casey said. “Byrd is an impact bat who can help out somebody right now.”
After today’s deadline, players can still switch teams until Aug. 31, though they would have to first clear waivers.
The Cardinals yesterday acquired former All-Star pitcher Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians for minor-league outfielder James Ramsey, their first-round draft pick in 2012.
The Red Sox also made a trade yesterday, sending pitcher Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be announced later.
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