Defending champs focal point of deadline
Seldom has a defending World Series champion been so clearly in the middle of the action from a sellers’ perspective leading into the July 31 trade deadline. But such is life for a Red Sox team that was 48-58 entering play on Tuesday, and 8 1/2 games out for a Wild Card spot.
Jon Lester’s availability for an elite prospect has been well-chronicled, with teams near and far checking in on the ace lefty. But John Lackey has also found his way into the middle of the rumor mill and has a more team-friendly contract for an acquiring team than Lester, who is a free agent at season’s end. When Lackey signed with the Red Sox, an extra year at the player minimum was tacked on to the end of the contract if Lackey ever missed a season due to elbow woes. That’s exactly what happened in 2012, and 2015 is the year Lackey gets paid the minimum.
Andrew Miller, who has been a dominant lefty reliever at times for the Sox this season, is a free agent at the end of the season and another enticing potential addition for a lot of contenders. The one player the Red Sox are very hesitant to deal is their reliable closer Koji Uehara, who would likely return to Boston for the qualifying offer in 2015. Uehara will be 40 next April.
Lester takes the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday night in what should be a high-drama event, given Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
— Ian Browne