Lester off market, Marlins search continues

MIAMI — Scratch Jon Lester’s name off the board. So that leaves, John Lackey, Wade Miley, Tommy Milone and John Danks as names connected to the Marlins.

Actually, you can also scratch Milone off the list. To show how quickly news cam break, the A’s moved the lefty to the Twins for Sam Fuld not long after Lester was traded.

The clock is ticking towards Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Miami is expected to be active. But can the front office complete a deal?

The big splash of the morning came with reports that the Red Sox had sent Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes.

The Red Sox have been looking for big league ready outfielders, and they got one in Cespedes. Which explains why, from the Marlins, they were eyeing Christian Yelich.

Miami has no interest in moving any core players off its 25-man roster. So there wasn’t a fit for Lester.

The search is for a starting pitcher with controllable years.

Danks, the 29-year-old lefty, is signed through 2016 at $14,250 million per season. Would the Marlins take on all the salary, or expect the White Sox to pick up a big part of the deal?

Miami does have a trade chip in the fact they possess a competitive balance pici in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

Boston also is probably leaning heavily towards moving Lackey, who has a favorable contract for 2015 (league minimum). That said, the Red Sox are seeking to return to glory in 2015 and they are asking for big pieces. But perhaps a close to big league ready pitching prospect could complete a deal?

If Miami is to make a statement and a push, it will need some more pieces. An experienced starting pitcher would send a strong signal to a re-energized roster.

Joe Frisaro

Red Sox, A’s swap All-Stars: Lester for Cespedes in blockbuster

One of the most talked-about names on this year’s trade market has reportedly been dealt, but the exchange piece comes as a bit of a surprise. 

A’s general manager Billy Beane seems to have pulled off another blockbuster deal and acquired more starting pitching for the stretch run by trading power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for ace left-hander Jon Lester and veteran Jonny Gomes

WEEI‘s Alex Speier first reported the pieces of the deal on Thursday, and Yahoo!‘s Jeff Passan tweeted that Boston would be sending cash to Oakland and receiving the second pick in the competitive balance Comp B round.

After already dealing for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel this summer, the A’s continue to bolster their pitching staff and position themselves for a playoff run with the acquisition of Lester, a 10-game winner already this year and a three-time All-Star. He’ll be a free agent at the end of this season.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, land an elite power hitter in Cespedes — the two-time defending Home Run Derby champ who, at 28, has hit 23-plus homers in his first two full seasons and has already belted 17 this year. He was an All-Star for the first time this season.

Gomes, 33, has been in Boston since the 2013 season after spending 2012 with the A’s.

– Joey Nowak

Dodgers Not Close on Any Deal

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he wasn’t close to any trades and basically said the club’s three top prospects — Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias — are untouchable. “At this point in time, we don’t want to trade any of the three — period,” he said. That essentially leaves the Dodgers out of deals for any elite starter rumored available (David Price, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels), and Colletti didn’t sound optimistic about landing a back-end starter or reliever by Thursday’s deadline, either. — Ken Gurnick

Are the Cardinals done dealing?

In acquiring Justin Masterson from the Indians on Wednesday, the Cardinals succeeded in their search to add to their rotation depth. But does the addition actually mean the Cardinals are done dealing before the non-waiver Trade Deadline?

General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged that he is “not overly optimistic” that the Cardinals will make another deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline, but he has also not clipped the phone lines.

“I think we’ve always tried to position ourselves as opportunistic,” Mozeliak said. “If something comes our way, we want to be prepared. Clearly, us being connected to a lot of different things, that’s just by us showing some interest. Whether that means there is traction or not, I would probably lean toward the not. But a lot of things can change.”

The Cardinals have inquired about the availability of starters more accomplished than Masterson, but with a better return would come a heavier cost. If the Cardinals were to deal again, it would likely be to add one of those marquee starting pitchers.

“We’re open for business to see what would happen,” Mozeliak said. “I’m not overly optimistic that we’ll do anything. We’ll take our time, what little we have left, and see if we cannot improve.”

– Jenifer Langosch

 

Hands Off Dodgers Prospects

One day before the trade deadline, the Dodgers continue to tell clubs they won’t trade their top three prospects — Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias. That means they aren’t expecting to land elite starters David Price, Cole Hamels or Jon Lester. Several players suggested John Lackey would be nice fit, but the front office might settle for relief help, which was the original priority anyway. — Ken Gurnick

Os, Red Sox Lester talks fizzle

BALTIMORE — Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had a decidedly different stance in trade discussions when speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

While rumors swirled about the club’s heavy involvement in trying to acquire Red Sox ace Jon Lester, Duquette, who said on Tuesday that he was focused on pitching depth, didn’t disagree that it was on his radar.

“We’d be interested in adding pitchers that could help us at the top of our rotation,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be?”

However, as of Wednesday evening, talks on that front seemed a long ways off with the New York Daily news reporting talks between the two sides had tailed off and become much more of a long shot.

Duquette, who maintained that he wants to hang on to his top pitching prospects, also confirmed that Hunter Harvey has a right flexor mass injury — as first reported by MLB.com — and will miss the rest of the season. Asked how much the news changed trade talks, Duquette wouldn’t elaborate nor would he comment on any specific negotiations.

Still, losing Harvey for the remainder of the season certainly weakens the Orioles’ farm system, particularly for a big deal, considerably. Even if the team had taken Harvey off the table in trade talks, it’s still a stark reminder of how thin the Orioles Minor League system can get.

“We have a couple of active discussions,” he said. “We have some discussions that are no longer active from yesterday, so we’ve been able to see where we can make a trade and help our ballclub. Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching, we think are very valuable for the long-term sustainability of the organization and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year-in and year-out. I think with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we would try and give them a prolonged trial in the big leagues before we would trade them.”

Hunter joins Dylan Bundy, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, leaving 23-year-old Kevin Gausman as the only healthy member of the club’s top three pitching prospects. Gausman is currently part of the Orioles’ rotation and it’s highly unlikely he would be dealt.

Os, Rangers have discussed Cotts

The Rangers are open to dealing left-handed reliever Neal Cotts and Baltimore is one of the teams interested. The Orioles are trying to add a reliever, preferably one who can get both lefties and righties out to upgrade their team in advance of Thursday’s Trade Deadline. Cotts has gone 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 50 games, pitching in 46 innings and allowing 18 earned runs on 46 hits and 18 walks, with 50 strikeouts.

Cotts, 34, has pretty even splits and has held right-handed hitters to a .252/.325/.342 line with lefties hitting .277/.347/.431. The Orioles would prefer to add a reliever who is versatile enough so that they don’t have to play match ups and they are trying to upgrade their sixth and seventh-inning spots to help bridge to Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton.

 

Os in serious talks for Lester

The Orioles have stepped up in the Jon Lester sweepstakes, with the two teams in serious talks involving Boston’s starting pitcher as of Wednesday afternoon.

There is no deal done, nor is there a preliminary one in place, but multiple sources told MLB.com on Wednesday that the talks between the O’s and Boston have stepped up considerably in the past 24 hours. The news comes as a shock given that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Tuesday that he was concentrated on adding pitching depth and Lester –a frontline arm– certainly wouldn’t be that.

The Red Sox, like most clubs, covet the Orioles top young pitchers including Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey and are rumored to also favor outfield help. Gausman is currently part of the team’s rotation and the Orioles are highly unlikely to deal the 23-year-old for a two-month rental in Lester. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who the Orioles have dangled as trade bait to several National League clubs already this season, could potentially be involved with the Red Sox potentially getting a pitcher in part of a return for Lester. Obviously, it would take more than just that to get Lester –the Red Sox ace scratched from his Wednesday start– to Baltimore.

It’s important to note, the O’s aren’t the only team in on Lester with about a half-dozen rumors teams of interest. But they are certainly making a considerate run at the lefty, who is one of three aces considered “available” at this year’s Trade Deadline.

–Brittany Ghiroli

Reds still buying?

The Reds, losers of seven-straight out of the All-Star break and nine of 11 entering Wednesday’s play, went from definite buyers to speculation they could sell before the Trade Deadline since they hit the skids.

While general manager Walt Jocketty has not been seen lately, Price maintained Wednesday morning that the Reds were still looking to make additions.

“I think we’re looking to get better. I don’t think there is any question about that,” Price said. “I don’t see us as a team that’s looking to 2015. The way we’ve played and the way we’ve battled through the year and stayed competitive and stayed in this thing, knowing there’s a chance we’re going to get Brandon [Phillips] and Joey [Votto] back, that we’ve got a bunch of guys here that fight and are gamers, I don’t think there’s any reason to lose optimism that we can stay in this thing and start to get ourselves closer to the top – where we were right before the break.”

– Mark Sheldon

Marlins remain focused on controllable starter

MIAMI — The last call was made around 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, shortly before Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill left the ballpark. The first message Hill received after he woke up was about 8:37 a.m.

Numerous calls are coming in, and the Marlins are weighing all options as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

The Marlins are working hard to make a trade or two before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. A controllable starting pitcher remains a priority, but a rental remains possible, but not at the cost of mortgaging the future.

“Not ideal for what we’re trying to do,” Hill said of a rental. “It’s something that we’ve entertained and have dipped our toe in the water. It all depends on the cost to acquire a rental and if it sidetracks what we’re trying to do in the long term.”

That may rule out Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who would with the club for the rest of the season.

Miami made it back to .500 (53-53) by beating the Nationals on Tuesday night. Hill was working the phones all the way until he left Marlins Park, which was about 1 a.m.

“These guys in this room know we believe in them, and believe in the talent in this room,” Hill said Wednesday morning. “Whether we’re able to make a deal or not, I think they know we have their back. We’re supportive of what they’re trying to do. We’re going to do what’s best to try to upgrade. But we’re not going to be foolish. We’re not going to be short-sighted. I think we understand where we’re at as an organization, but we also understand where we’re trying to go.

“I think that’s the balance that you strike at this time of year. We’ll see what happens these next two days. But there’s been a lot going on. You try to work through it, and see if what you’re trying to do makes sense, not just in the near term, but in the long term.”

Starting pitching is the priority. Second base also could be addressed, but it is not as big an objective as a controllable starter.

Miami also is not planning on taking any core player off its big league roster.

If need be, the club will take on salary.

“I would say we’re looking at everything,” Hill said. “Money deals. Prospects deals. We’re looking at everything.”

Joe Frisaro

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