BOSTON — The Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline is synonymous with stress.
The Red Sox’s clubhouse has been an interesting place in recent days, largely because Boston’s ace, Jon Lester, is rumored to be available on the trade market. Several other veterans are believed to be drawing interest, too, and manager John Farrell has his hands full keeping everyone focused.
Let’s go over some nuggets to come out of Fenway Park before Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Also, be sure to check out NESN.com’s MLB trade deadline live blog.
— The Red Sox traded Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
Doubront’s locker wasn’t yet cleared out roughly three hours before game time, but the Red Sox officially announced the deal a short time later. Doubront’s departure opened a roster spot for right-hander Brandon Workman.
Doubront had been unhappy with his role in Boston. A trade pretty much seemed inevitable. He’ll rejoin Theo Epstein, who was Boston’s general manager when the pitcher was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005.
— Lester was in full uniform Wednesday despite being scratched from his scheduled start in favor of Workman. Lester and Farrell chatted on the field during batting practice, a sight that lent itself to plenty of “fly on the wall” comments from onlookers and Twitter users.
— Farrell expressed hope and optimism Tuesday that Lester would remain with the Red Sox. The manager echoed those sentiments Wednesday, once again acknowledging the unique bond shared between the two.
“You see a young guy come up. You see him mature. You see him accomplish certain challenges fundamentally and see them play out on the field, and then you share with him all the successes that he has brought to not only this team and this organization, but certainly himself,” Farrell said. “It runs deeper, particularly because of being his pitching coach for a number of years and then being in this position. There’s a unique set of circumstances here.
“I couldn’t be more proud of watching the way he’s matured and the talent that he is. To know (Lester’s wife) Farrah and their two sons and to see how they’ve grown as a family, how he’s grown as a man, it’s been really awesome to witness.”
Farrell also is particularly proud of how Lester has handled this season. The left-hander has faced a crazy situation given his impending free agency, yet he hasn’t allowed it to be a distraction to him or the team.
— If Lester isn’t traded before Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, he will pitch Sunday against the New York Yankees.
— John Lackey is scheduled to pitch Friday and Allen Webster is scheduled to pitch Saturday.
Farrell said he wasn’t aware of any contingency plan in case Lackey is traded before his next start. Anthony Ranaudo’s start with Triple-A Pawtucket has been pushed back to Friday to allow newcomer Edwin Escobar to start Thursday, though, so he’d certainly be a candidate if a deal involving Lackey takes place.
— The Red Sox have every intention of contending in 2015, according to Farrell.
“We have every intention to compete and contend next year,” Farrell said. “The question mark remains: Who are the players that come back for individual players that we have now? We don’t know that yet. But I would hope that the team that is built for 2015 isn’t just based on those who are brought back in trade by tomorrow at 4 o’clock. This is an ongoing process that we continue to build.”
— Farrell expressed faith in general manager Ben Cherington’s “plan” several times while speaking with reporters. He also noted that some rumors — like the ones surrounding Lester — carry “shock value.”
“What we have to do is take a step back from all of this and know that there’s decisions that are part of the business side of the game and have faith in the fact that Ben has got a clear-cut plan to get us back to (being) a team that will contend,” Farrell said.
— Multiple reports before Wednesday’s game indicated that the Red Sox and Orioles were in discussions regarding a deal involving Lester. One report even labeled a deal as “close,” which O’s GM Dan Duquette (sort of) denied.
“I don’t know really what the rumors are,” Duquette told CSNBaltimore.com. “That would be news to me.”