It was more than evident the value was for Jon Lester. And it was even more evident that the Boston Red Sox were not willing to invest that kind of money in the 30-year-old. Therefore, it only made sense to go out and see what they could get in return. And as the saying goes; nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Ben Cherington did his due diligence on what the market was for the southpaw and got the most he could for Lester in getting power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics. The return was greater than initially expected, as many believed that the highest return for Lester was a package of top prospects. And clearly it’s higher than the compensatory pick the Sox would receive had they held onto Lester and lost him in the offseason.
It brings one of the game’s budding stars to Boston — giving the anemic Red Sox lineup a much-needed boost in the middle — while giving Lester the best possible shot at a third World Series ring. It’s a draw in the game of who-got-the-better-of-the-deal, as Brad Berreman pointed out Thursday morning.
Cespedes could go in two different directions for the Red Sox. He could be the player the organization has desperately needed, or he could be the piece of a bigger puzzle.
If Cespedes is in fact a long-term investment, he gives the Red Sox a middle-of-the-order bat that the team can build around. In his third MLB season, Cespedes has 17 home runs and 67 RBIs for the first-place A’s, coming off seasons of 23 and 26 bombs, respectively, in 2012-13. That’s a body of work put up in one of the more cavernous yards in the American League in O.co Coliseum, mind you.
The Red Sox system lacks right-handed power — something at a premium in baseball — that you can build a lineup around (yes, we still need to see more from Will Middlebrooks) and offense out of the outfield. The Red Sox’ offensive ineptitude from the outfield positions have been well-documented. Cespedes could be the answer to that problem.
Or Cespedes could be the piece of a deal that would bring Miami Marlins left fielder Giancarlo Stanton to Boston, which would happen over the winter. Already leaders of the pack for Stanton based on their wealth of prospects, the addition of Cespedes makes their push even stronger.
Reports in recent days indicate that Stanton will be moved by the Marlins over the offseason, as the 24-year-old becomes arbitration-eligible for the first time in his young, promising career. Reports also indicate that the Marlins are very high on Cespedes, a player the organization would like to bring in and build around.
Cespedes is one of baseball’s most exciting assets as a player who can hit, run, field, throw and so much more. He’s a personality a team can market itself around and the type of player who fans come to watch. A pair of Cuban stars, in Cespedes and Jose Fernandez, whom going out to the ballpark and seeing play in an event is exactly what the Marlins’ brand needs.
Cespedes-for-Lester came out of nowhere, and it’s far from the what the finished product will be when the Red Sox converge in Fort Myers in February.
So sit back and get your popcorn, because the fireworks are just starting.