Athletics land Lester

Editor’s Note: Dan Johnson contributed to this post.

In what is the first blockbuster trade on the trade deadline day, the Oakland Athletics traded Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick to the Boston Red Sox for staff ace Jon Lester, outfielder Jonny Gomes and an unannounced amount of cash.

Immediate impact for the A’s

Lester joins a rotation of the recently acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, as well as Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. Jesse Chavez is currently listed as the sixth starter, so someone will likely move to the bullpen soon. It could be Hammel, if his numbers don’t improve.

Lester, 30, has had a solid year despite Boston’s turmoil, pitching to a 10-7 record and 2.52 ERA. The lefty’s career ERA is considerably higher at 3.64, and Oakland looks to capitalize in particular on his success in a contract year.

The A’s get a fairly sure bet in Lester, as he has hovered around 200 innings every year since 2008, only missing that mark with 191 2/3 in 2011. While the primary focus is this year, Oakland will no doubt give Lester at least a qualifying offer after the season, so the least they stand to gain in the long-term is a compensatory draft pick.

Some further implications

This deal could be huge for Boston as well. Jon Lester is expected to resign with the Sox in the offseason. This means that Red Sox gave up two months of Lester pitching in what was already a lost season, and in return they gain Cespedes to help bolster a weak offense. Also, Cespedes will be under contract for next year, meaning that the Red Sox may be gearing up for another World Series run in the near future.

Back to the A’s — this helps cement them as the World Series favorites for 2014. The team already had a dominant pitching staff, but by adding Lester to the top of the rotation, it gives them a potential playoff rotation of Scott Kazimir, Sonny Gray, Lester, and Jeff Samardzija. Also, while losing Yoenis Cespedes will hurt their offensive capability this year, Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss, and Josh Donaldson will be able to carry the load.

The A’s traded out of their young pitching depth to fill the need created by trading Cespedes. They acquired Sam Fuld from the Twins for pitcher Tommy Milone, who was pushed out of the rotation following the Samardzija-Hammel trade.

Tim Hanna is a contributing writer of Three for Ten Sports.

Dan Johnson is editor-in-chief of Three for Ten Sports and former managing editor of The Collegian at Grove City College.

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