The A’s have gotten trade deadline day off to a bang, acquiring Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes according to WEEI’s Alex Speier. Boston is also getting a competitive balance draft pick from Oakland, with Boston sending cash to the A’s.
Lester was the best starting pitcher on the market, having posted an impressive 2.52 ERA in 143 innings this season. With this trade the A’s have put together a playoff rotation of Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija that should scare every other team in baseball.
The trade also brings back Jonny Gomes, who posted his best season with the A’s in 2012 before leaving in the summer to join the Red Sox on a two year deal. He hasn’t been quite as good with the Red Sox, but he should be able to provide more depth and platooning opportunities for Bob Melvin.
Going to the Red Sox is Cespedes, who has been a fan favorite in Oakland but over the last couple of seasons hasn’t quite been able to replicate the success he had in his rookie season … even though he showed flashes with some highlight plays:
Over the last two seasons, Cespedes has been limited by injuries. While he has amazing power his offensive numbers have been just slightly above average. His triple slash line of .247/.298/.452 translates to just a 108 OPS+, which is slightly above average. Top it all off with the fact that Cespedes can become a free agent after next season and the price that the A’s paid doesn’t look quite as a high for two rental players.
There’s also a chemistry component here. With both Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry out with injuries, Melvin wanted Cespedes to play center field. Cespedes was unwilling, and instead of going to Melvin he went to a teammate. Cespedes had no comment when John Shea asked him about the center field situation yesterday, but that touchy situation — plus his impending free agency after the 2015 season — may have made Billy Beane’s decision a little easier.
While it is tough to see Cespedes leave, the A’s window to win this season is wide open. With the best record in baseball and now a playoff rotation that can go head-to-head with anyone, it looks like Billy Beane is going all in to make a run at a World Series title.