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jon lester feature red soxI’ve been reading and culling bits on the Boston Red Sox’s Trade Deadline plans today, with an eye toward a large discussion of how their efforts could dramatically impact the market these next two days (short version: they have lots of interesting assets to trade, and could be a number of teams’ preferred trading partner).

But the Jon Lester stuff, in particular, is escalating quickly, and requires a separate discussion. Yesterday, I wrote about why this could all matter to the Cubs, who might pursue Lester in the offseason as a free agent. And today, well, just look at this from Pete Abraham and Andy Martino:

That’s about as far as the report can go before a trade actually happens. Within the span of just a few days, the story went from “the Red Sox might not extend Lester” to “the Red Sox might consider shopping Lester” to “the Red Sox are going to trade Lester.” Earlier, Buster Olney heard that a friend of Lester’s said he wouldn’t be re-signing with the Red Sox, and other teams expect him to be traded. So, yeah, it really sounds like it’s going to happen.

That’s quite a shakeup for the rumor mill, and it will be extremely interesting to see where Lester lands (does it deplete the talent base of a rival like the Cardinals? (yes, please) Or does Lester go to a team that will try to extend him?). Lester is bound to be the biggest get (after Samardzija/Hammel) for any team this year, which could push other contenders to act quickly in response. In other words, a Lester trade – if it happens – could make things exciting all around baseball very quickly with the deadline just two days away.

An ancillary effect of the Red Sox moving Lester? It could make the Rays – already surging – even more likely to hang onto David Price right now. And, if they do, that will make it all the more likely that Price is a trade candidate in the offseason. Obviously that has the potential (*potential*) to be of interest to the Cubs.

UPDATE: There have now been multiple reports suggesting the Pirates could be a darkhorse for Lester. I say it altruistically (I think): go get yours, Pirates. Yeah, it would deplete the asset base of a competitor and would virtually guarantee that Lester reaches free agency, but the main reason I’d like to see it is I want to see teams like the Pirates really go for it and do well. They are in their window, their fans deserve it, and the Central is wide open for them.

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