Braves more interested in Lester than Beckett

The Red Sox called the Braves to gauge their interest in Josh Beckett. They would have likely received a different response had they asked about Jon Lester.  But it does not appear Lester will be made available before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline.

Even with the possibility that the Red Sox might be willing to eat more than half of the $37 million still owed to Beckett through the end of the 2014 season, the Braves do not seem to be a fit.  The veteran pitcher has experienced a decline in velocity while posting a 4.57 ERA in 17 starts last year.  With a 5.78 ERA in 2010 and 2.98 ERA in 2011, Beckett is trending toward being one of those every-other-year pitchers like Javier Vazquez was during his career.

The Braves would be more interested in Lester, who is in the midst of the most disappointing season of his young career.  Lester is four years younger and cheaper (owed $11.625M in 2013 and has a $13M club option with a $250,000 buyout for the 2014 season) than Beckett.

With a little more than 24 hours left before the Trade Deadline, the Braves will continue their search for a starting pitcher.  Many industry sources seem to agree that the Rays are not aggressively attempting to trade James Shields.  As for the Ryan Dempster situation, it remains cloudy.  If the Dodgers are not able to work out the trade Dempster has been hoping for, there is still a chance the Cubs could come back to the Braves.

If the Cubs come back to the Braves, they might not get the same package that was in place before Dempster blocked a trade to Atlanta last week.  In other words, there is no guarantee Randall Delgado would also be available in this package.

The Braves have also checked in on some relievers.  Wade Davis has been mentioned among their targets, but the Rays also seem reluctant to move him.  The Rockies have indicated former Braves top pitching prospect Matt Belisle is not available.  But there is a chance they could move right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt.  — Mark Bowman

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