The Jon Lester sweepstakes has reached its conclusion. And talk about a blockbuster.
Lester has been traded along with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to multiple reports.
Lester, who is set to become a free agent after this season, is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts in 2014. The three-time All-Star is having his best season yet, and he’ll now join a rotation in Oakland that also features Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray.
The Red Sox clearly intend to contend in 2015, as they opted for major league talent rather than prospects. Cespedes, who was named an All-Star this season, gives Boston a potential middle-of-the-order bat. The right-handed-hitting outfielder also has a rocket arm.
Cespedes is hitting .256 with 17 homers, 67 RBIs and a .767 OPS this season. The two-time Home Run Derby champion hit 23 homers in 2012 and 26 bombs in 2013 — his first two seasons in the majors after defecting from Cuba. Cespedes, who turns 29 in October, signed a four-year, $36 million contract with Oakland before the 2012 season. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
Gomes, who played for the A’s in 2012, figures to replace Cespedes in left field. The 33-year-old has shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching throughout his career, and his excellent clubhouse presence is well-documented.
Lester and the Red Sox had expressed a desire to continue their relationship beyond 2014, but it became clear recently that the left-hander’s days in Boston were numbered. It’s still possible Lester could return to the Red Sox in free agency this offseason — he said over the weekend he’d consider re-signing with Boston even if traded before Thursday’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline — but that remains an uncertainty at this point.
Lester, who was drafted by the Red Sox in the second round in 2002, owns a 110-63 record and a 3.64 ERA in 242 appearances (241 starts) over parts of nine seasons. The 30-year-old leaves Boston with two World Series rings.
Passan adds that the Red Sox also are sending cash to the A’s as part of the trade while receiving a draft pick in return.
UPDATE, 1 p.m. ET: The Boston Red Sox have officially announced the trade.
The Red Sox have traded Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and cash considerations for Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 competitive balance draft pick.