The Dark Side Of Booming Local TV Deals

Bud Selig has been giddy watching baseball teams attract bigger and bigger local television deals. More local TV revenue to a team means more money for the league to spread via revenue sharing and greater competitive balance. And Bug Selig sure loves competitive balance. On a recent visit to PNC Park, Major League Baseball’s commissioner told Pittsburgh Pirates broadcasters that he got “goosebumps” watching the Reds and Pirates square off in last year’s postseason.

But big local TV contracts aren’t all Skittles and puppies. Certainly not for fans who are forced to pay higher and higher cable and satellite TV bills to watch their home team. Nor for cable and satellite TV customers who don’t care about baseball but have to pay the higher prices as part of their bundled programming.

It turns out that big local TV contracts aren’t always good news for teams either. That has turned Selig’s mood quite sour.

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Nicholas Minnix Baseball Chat – 8/1/14

Live Blog Nicholas Minnix Baseball Chat — 8/1/14

The Changes In Postseason Odds From Yesterday

Note: This morning, I noticed that Baseball Prospectus did a piece with the same basic premise. We aren’t trying to copy their content; both of us just had the same idea. Go read their piece too.

Yesterday, a bunch of teams made trades, and a bunch of conclusions were drawn about what these trades mean. The Angels did nothing and are now screwed! The Cardinals will now run away with the NL Central! Good luck competing with the Orioles now, Blue Jays!

As we’ve written countless times over the years, though, one individual baseball player doesn’t matter very much in the grand scheme of things, and two months of one individual baseball player really doesn’t matter all that much. As you might expect, the postseason odds from today look an awful lot like the postseason odds from yesterday, even after all the trades were processed and the depth charts updated. Good teams got a little more good and bad teams occasionally got a little worse, but there were no seismic shifts in our future expectations.

However, there were some changes, and it’s worth looking at what changed the most. To note; we ware not isolating the effects of solely the trade a team made, but the entire effects of all of the moves on the league yesterday, as well as the games played last night. So, it’s not quite correct to say that the complete difference in odds from yesterday to today was due to Player X’s acquisition, since we’re also incorporating some changes in the standings from yesterday morning as well.

Caveats aside, let’s get to some data.

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NERD Game Scores for Friday, August 1, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.astro


Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles AL at Tampa Bay | 19:10 ET
Matt Shoemaker (76.1 IP, 81 xFIP-, 0.9 WAR) faces Jeremy Hellickson (9.0 IP, 121 xFIP-, 0.2 WAR). In all of July, the former walked only three batters over 22.1 innings — this, while striking out 24. Nor was that performance particularly out of character for Shoemaker: among the 205 pitchers to have recorded 20-plus innings as a starter this year, Shoemaker has produced the 11th-best park-adjusted xFIP — just behind the recently traded David Price and just ahead of the also recently traded Jon Lester.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Tampa Bay Radio.

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Prospect Watch: The Burlington Royals, From Impact to Curiosity

For players in 28 of MLB’s 30 organizations, the lowest level of U.S.-based affiliated professional baseball is the complex leagues, the Arizona League and the Gulf Coast League. These leagues feature the rawest of the raw when it comes to professional baseball players, largely including players fresh out of high school or Latin America, with some low-rung college players mixed in.

Two organizations, however, do not have complex league teams. The Rockies haven’t had one since 2000, instead maintaining a Rookie-Advanced team in the Pioneer league and a short-season-A team in the Northwest League. From 2003 to 2013, the White Sox were the other team, but this year, the Pale Hose picked up an Arizona League team and their division rivals in Kansas City became the second club with a complex league vacuum.

The Royals thus lost an entire team’s worth of roster spots in their system in the offseason, and that created something of a backlog in their organization. All the high school draftees and Latin American kids who would normally (or at least often) be assigned to their old AZL team now jumped straight up to the club’s Rookie-Advanced affiliate in Burlington. The squad opened the year with a whopping 38 players on its roster as a result, including four 17-year-olds and six players picked in the top six rounds of the 2014 draft. As you’d expect, the raw Burlington squad resides in last place in the Appalachian League East Division, but also as you’d expect, they are largely considered the most talented team in the circuit. I sat in on seven of their contests this year, and in this piece, I’m going to touch on several intriguing players on this oversized roster.

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Yankees Gain Flexibility in Landing Prado, Drew

For much of today, it seemed like the Red Sox were going to be the only active American League East team, but then the Orioles and Yankees got in on the act (you can read all of our trade deadline analysis here). For the Yankees part, they acquired Stephen Drew and Martin Prado. Both could be important to the team, but Prado’s acquisition may affect the 2015 Yankees as well, which makes it a little more interesting.

Of course, the most interesting part of this deal is which Martin Prado are the Yankees getting? There’s a big difference between the .345 wOBA version of Prado and the current .305 wOBA incarnation. Either way, they are unlikely to miss prospect Peter O’Brien, who despite hitting some impressive home runs, was unlikely to find much time behind the plate for the Yankees — if he can even remain behind the plate. O’Brien has played some first base and right field this year, and it’s unclear exactly where he will fit with the Dbacks, if and when he reaches the majors.

Getting back to Prado, both ZiPS and Steamer think that he’ll do better, and it’s possible that Prado’s performance was dragged down by the sinkhole that has been the Diamondbacks’ season. Assuming just for a moment that the change of scenery reinvigorates Prado, he should be able to help in a number of ways. For starters, he is going to right field, which will mercifully push Ichiro Suzuki and his sub-replacement-ness back to the bench. But Prado is probably going to play all over. He’s going to help out in left field on occasion, and at third base as well. Maybe even a little at first base.

The key question, however, is how much time he sees at second base. Carlos Beltran may be ready to resume some work in right field soon, and when he is, there will be an opportunity created to move Derek Jeter to designated hitter — Beltran in right, Prado at second, Drew at short, and the Captain at DH. At this stage, Jeter is never going to play another defensive position, but he has started at DH four times this year, and adding Prado and Drew will give them the flexibility to rest Jeter’s legs more frequently down the stretch without sacrificing offense the way they would have been by starting Brendan Ryan at short.

Finally, there is the consideration beyond this year. When the team traded for Chase Headley, general manager Brian Cashman hedged on whether or not he would be in their 2015 plans, but between Prado being under contract and Alex Rodriguez returning, it would seem that the Yankees now have little to no motivation to retain Headley.

Neither Prado nor Drew is going to make the Yankees a title contender, but they are better than the players they replaced, they help push Ichiro to the bench, and might be able to buy Jeter some easier nights. That’s not a bad bit of work considering all they sacrificed was one fringe prospect, and it should keep the Yankees viable in the AL East for the rest of the way.

2014 Trade Reaction Roundup

Well, that’s about the most active trade deadline I can remember, though it might not feel that way if you live in Philadelphia, Colorado, or Toronto. Still, some big deals happened, some small deals happened, and a bunch of players are changing uniforms. We’ve written about most of the deals, with multiple angles on all the big ones. To make them easy to find, here’s one big post to find all our reactions in one spot. As we add more write-ups, we’ll add them here as well.

Thanks for hanging out and breaking all kinds of FanGraphs traffic records, everyone.

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Don’t Write Off The Rays End Of The David Price Deal Just Yet

Today was quite the deadline spectacle, with two of the best pitchers in baseball, Jon Lester and David Price, changing uniforms. The Lester deal hit early, and it was an eye-opener, with the “buyer” A’s “selling” their #4 hitter, Yoenis Cespedes in the process. The movement of established players, such as Cespedes, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, by buyers in pursuit of their needs came to be one of the themes of the day.

As they often do, however, the Tampa Bay Rays zigged while everyone else zagged, and “sold” ace lefty David Price to the Tigers in a three-team deal that sent Austin Jackson to the Mariners, and lefty starter Drew Smyly and infielders Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to the Rays. The reaction of many media outlets to the Rays’ take had a quizzical or even disappointed tone. It takes a little more analysis – and an understanding of the way the underfunded Rays need to do business – to see what they’re up to here. To put it simply, the Rays are trusting their solid organizational evaluation skills as they have many times in the past, and see an abundance of talent and team control in this three-player package. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Versions of Cleveland’s New Prospect, Zach Walters

Earlier today, the Cleveland Americans received infield prospect Zach Walters from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Asdrubal Cabrera. Less early today, my amusingly coiffed colleague Eno Sarris considered Walters’ possible future as a major-leaguer.

In Sarris’s piece, he cites work by Chris St. John which suggests that players who’ve recorded similar walk and strikeout rates as Walters at Triple-A — that those players have failed to make any sort of positive impact at the major-league level about 88% of the time. That’s a reasonable framework by which to evaluate Walters, and a not particularly optimistic conclusion. As Sarris concedes, however, St. John’s work is position agnostic. Moreover, one notes that it ignores the possible influence of power numbers. Indeed, it appears to be the case that Walters’ positional value and his home-run rate are likely to be his primary sources of value.

With a view towards attempting to better understand how Walters might perform at the major-league level, I’ve produced five different lines below, each of which represents a different version of Zach Walters prorated over a full season’s worth of plate appearances.

1 550 7.9% 19.8% 13 .301 0.0 100 0 0 2.0
2 550 4.7% 25.3% 20 .294 0.0 93 -4 -4 1.1
3 550 9.6% 38.0% 28 .286 -3.1 110 6 7 3.5
4 550 7.7% 23.8% 32 .348 -1.0 156 35 4 5.8
5 550 6.0% 30.0% 21 .300 0.0 94 -3 3 1.9

Line (1) is an average non-pitching major-league batter in the year 2014. This is what a Marcel-type projection system might produce for Walters. Line (2) is Walters’ current Steamer projection just prorated to 550 plate appearances. Steamer doesn’t care for Walters’ defense. Consider: for a shortstop to produce an overall defensive mark of -4 runs, he’d need to record a single-season UZR of something like -11 or -12 runs. Line (3) is Walters’ current major-league line — through just 52 plate appearances — prorated to a full season. Walters has managed to hit three home runs on the 31 occasions he hasn’t either walked or struck out — about three times the normal major-league rate. Line (4) is a verbatim rendering of Walters’ Triple-A line this year — with baserunning estimated from speed score and defense based entirely on positional adjustment. Line (5) is the least important of all the above insofar as it represents a sort of “scouting” projection by the author. Walters will strike out at a rate greater than average, is the suggestion, and will walk at a rate below average. But both his power and defensive skills are considerable enough in concert — is my own half-educated opinion — so as to produce an average major-leaguer.

Those who remain curious about Walters might derive some pleasure from his appearance on FanGraphs Audio last August.

In Austin Jackson, Mariners Land Decent Player and Massive Upgrade

In one of the smaller moves of the day, the Mariners dealt Abraham Almonte and another minor leaguer to the Padres for Chris Denorfia. It wasn’t a trade that caught much attention, because neither of the younger guys is of any real consequence, and Denorfia is a rental having a down season. It was just something that flew by, completely under the radar, and now something you should consider is that Almonte began the season as the Mariners’ starter in center field.

So it could be said that, later on Thursday, the Mariners addressed a need that was ever so desperate. They didn’t end up with David Price, but they did get themselves involved in the deal, adding Austin Jackson and subtracting Nick Franklin. Jackson has only another eight months of team control, and it would appear he might’ve peaked in 2012. But while Jackson hasn’t been playing like a star-level player, for the Mariners he ought to be an upgrade of some very real significance.

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Tigers See the A’s Jon Lester, Raise Them David Price

The last two years, the Tigers have beaten the A’s in the American League Division Series. In both years, it went the full five games, with the A’s falling just short. The A’s have spent the last month trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again, loading up their rotation with Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and now Jon Lester.

Maybe the Tigers would have done this anyway. We’ll never know, of course, but what we do know is that the Tigers acquired David Price this afternoon, bolstering their own rotation to make a pitching staff that is unlike anything we’ve seen in a while.

This is what their current starting five has done over the last calendar year.

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Orioles Land Andrew Miller from busy Red Sox

Andrew Miller has been phenomenal for Boston this season. He has struck out over 40 percent of the batters he has faced, and has been death against both lefties (0.65 FIP, .194 wOBA allowed) and righties (2.41 FIP, .243 wOBA allowed). He has been one of the best relievers in baseball this year — his WAR is 11th-highest among qualified relievers, and his 43 FIP- is fifth-best — and he will surely help the Orioles bullpen down the stretch. But he is also a free agent at the end of the season, which could make the price paid for him — reportedly pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez — steep.

Let’s start with Baltimore. As a unit, their bullpen FIP- is 16th-best in baseball as we sit here right now. Over the past 30 days though, it has been considerably better — their 64 FIP- in this most recent period ranks second-best in baseball. Between Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day, the team has four relievers that they can trust in high-leverage situations. And Ryan Webb and Brad Brach have flashed potential at times as well, though neither gets the strikeouts requisite for being elite in a bullpen role.

In adding Miller to this group, but not adding a starting pitcher, it seems as though the Orioles didn’t like the options available to them in the starting pitching market, or the prices needed to acquire one of the options that they did desire. It would seem that their strategy then is to pray their starting pitching — which by FIP- has been the worst in the majors this season — can keep them in the game through five or six innings, and then turn the ball over to their bullpen. It’s not the prettiest of strategies, but it’s one that helped them get to the brink of the American League Championship Series in 2012.

This time though, they may have dealt away a bit more of their future than they would have preferred. Just last December, the Orioles were saying that they’d have to be blown away to deal Rodriguez, as the Venezuelan native reached Double-A last season at age 20. In 59.2 innings there, he struck out 23.4% of the batters he faced, and caught the attention of the prospect world. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and all ranked him in the 60s in their top 100 prospect lists this year. At ESPN, Keith Law ranked him 43rd, and FanGraphs’ Marc Hulet ranked him 36th. Law had ranked him 100th the year before as well, so this didn’t just come out of nowhere.

Rodriguez missed some time this year thanks to a knee injury, and he has been inconsistent since returning, but the potential was there not even six months ago, and likely hasn’t vanished.

The Sox turning one-third of a season from a relief pitcher who wasn’t going to help much on a last place team into a top-60 prospect is a pretty nice return, but Miller has been mighty impressive this season, and if the Orioles do reach the postseason, he will be an important weapon for them in October.

Nationals Take a Small Risk in Dealing Risky Prospect

At the beginning of the year, the Nationals’ infield might have seemed a strength. Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche, with Danny Espinosa in reserve? Especially if you told then’s version of yourself that LaRoche would resurge and Rendon would surge, you’d be happy with what you had.

Even with the injury to Zimmerman, you could argue that that a team with a 93% chance of making the playoffs might be fine with their current infield. Sure, Espinosa is hovering too close to replacement level for comfort, but they could win enough games with him in there to make the postseason, and Zimmerman might be healthy by then.

Then again, winning the division and making the postseason are two different things. This team needs to keep pace with the Braves. And so they traded Zach Walters for Asdrubal Cabrera.

And the upgrade over Danny Espinosa is undebatable. Though Espinosa has recovered some of his value from his nadir, and is showing some power and speed, there are two facets of his game that have not recovered. His league-average or better walk rate has not returned (5.6% BB%), and his glove is not rated well this year (-1.1 UZR). Cabrera should be able to match that defense with the shift from short, and his offense is just about league average these days.

They’re trading a potential shortstop for a couple months of a second baseman. You can’t debate that. Even as he’s moved on to other positions, Zach Walters played twice as many games at short than any other.

But even while you acknowledge the risk, you can point to the risk inherent in Walters. Not only as a prospect, but as a prospect with a low walk rate and a high strikeout rate. Prospects with that sort of a profile at 24 years old in Triple-A had an 88% bust rate according to Chris St. John’s work.

So, yeah, they took a chance. A chance that has about 12% likelihood of burning them.

Brewers Bet on a Different Sort of Regression

Though it wasn’t very flashy, the Brewers quietly made a deadline trade with the Diamondbacks, dealing a couple minor leaguers for a guy with a negative WAR. Going to Arizona: Mitchell Haniger and Anthony Banda. Haniger is the better prospect of the two, although he’s got a low ceiling and an unspectacular 2014 campaign under his belt. Going to Milwaukee: Gerardo Parra, who joins an outfield that already includes Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, and Khris Davis. Parra’s WAR stands at -0.3.

But, a year ago, it was 4.6, tied for 26th in all of baseball. With that kind of massive decline, you assume an offensive dropoff, and, sure enough, Parra’s wRC+ has dipped. But his modest skills are intact, and the biggest reason for the statistical dip is on the defensive side. The numbers think that, this year, Parra’s been a roughly average defensive outfielder. Last year he was fourth in baseball in overall Defense rating, right by the spectacular Gomez. Beyond that, Parra’s played all over, and here are his league rankings between 2009 – 2013 (1000-inning minimum):

Left field: 8th out of 60 in UZR/150
Center field: 20th out of 64
Right field: 1st out of 47

There’s a good bit of evidence that Parra is one of baseball’s better and more rangey outfielders. He hasn’t been hurt in 2014, and his own manager thinks he’s been fine. The Brewers are assuming that Parra is better than his 2014 statistics, and you can’t really blame them:



Assuming Parra’s still a good defensive outfielder, then he has value, and he improves a Brewers team that’s still fighting for its life. At the plate, he’s weakest against lefties, but as it works out, Parra’s left-handed and Davis is right-handed so we could have the makings here of something of a platoon. At least, Parra’s a fourth outfielder and defensive replacement, and few teams have a guy with such a great standout skill available on the bench. It’s a somewhat low-impact move for the Brewers, but Parra’s better than Logan Schafer, and this raises the team’s floor. Plus, if they’re extra daring, they can control Parra for 2015 as well. So far the Cardinals have made the NL Central splashes, but the Brewers paid relatively little for a guy who, several months ago, would’ve cost an upper-level prospect. It was a good time to strike.

2014 Trade Deadline Live Blog

Dave Cameron: So, we’re 75 minutes from the deadline, and most of the big moves have probably already happened, but we’ll spend the next couple of hours live blogging the rest of the run up to 4 pm, and the spillover that happens after. Come hang out with us.
Dave Cameron: Alright, I’ve got the chat on one screen and Twitter on another, so let’s chat for a while.
Dave Cameron: Plan is to go for a few hours, but things could change depending on what breaks. if David Price gets moved, I’ll have to go write about that, so we’ll see.
Dave Cameron: And, as you guys probably guessed, the queue is very full. Please don’t be mad if your questions don’t get answered.
Paul Swydan: Dave, I heard we traded Cistulli and a package of interns to the Rays for David Price? True, false?
Dave Cameron: And we have news: Asdrubal Cabrera has been traded somewhere.

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Chris Denorfia: Improvement By Not Being Endy Chavez

The Mariners are one of the pseudo-contenders who are are hanging around the second wild card chase, leaving them in the somewhat awkward position of wanting to upgrade but not being in a position where a significant move makes good sense. We currently estimate their playoff odds at 18%, about the same as the Indians, and that’s entirely tied to making the Wild Card game, so their chances of reaching the division series are a little less than half of that. But, at 55-52, they weren’t going to entirely stand still, so the task for the day was to find a player who could make them better without costing them something that they’ll miss in the future.

Enter Chris Denorfia. He just turned 34 a few weeks ago, will be a free agent at year’s end, and is hitting .242/.293/.319 for the Padres. That’s the kind of trifecta that will basically guarantee a low acquisition cost, and sure enough, the Mariners gave up little to get him, sending Abraham Almonte and Stephen Kohlscheen, who you have never heard of and probably will never hear of again.

In Denorfia, the Mariners get a guy who has a history of hitting left-handed pitching well and playing solid defense, though the hitting part hasn’t really happened this year. Still, a longer view of his talent level suggests he should be something like an average hitter, or maybe a tick below. Toss in the defense and some baserunning value, and Denorfia is a nifty little part-time outfielder. Not a guy you want in the line-up everyday, but a useful role player.

For the Mariners, though, that’s a massive improvement, considering that they have been using Endy Chavez as their starting right fielder. Since the start of the 2012 season, covering his last 617 plate appearances Chavez has been worth -2.3 WAR. If ever there was addition by subtraction, it is in replacing Chavez with an actual Major League player.

This move probably won’t help the Mariners enough to make a difference down the stretch, but it makes them better, and it makes them better at basically no cost. This is exactly the kind of move a team with a one-in-five chance of winning the second Wild Card should be making.

Cardinals Improve by Adding Lackey, Subtracting Craig

Wondering if the Cardinals felt good about Michael Wacha‘s shoulder or Shelby Miller‘s general existence? Wonder no more, because less than 24 hours after picking up Justin Masterson from Cleveland, they’ve now added John Lackey from Boston, for the not-insignificant price of Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.

Yesterday morning, the St. Louis rotation looked something like this:

  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Lance Lynn
  3. Joe Kelly
  4. Shelby Miller
  5. Carlos Martinez / Marco Gonzales

Now, it’s potentially a bit more like this:

  1. Wainwright
  2. Lynn
  3. Lackey
  4. Masterson
  5. Miller / Martinez

Is that better? It’s certainly different. Read the rest of this entry »

The Red Sox Second Trade Affirms 2015 Focus

An hour ago, we posted Paul Swydan’s review of the Jon Lester/Yoenis Cespedes swap from the Red Sox perspective, noting that Boston chose a shorter term big leaguer over a deal for prospects who were likely going to be several years off. And now, they’ve made a second deal — shipping John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly — that reaffirms that this is not a team looking to do any kind of rebuild.

This one isn’t quite as straight forward as the Lester-for-Cespedes deal, since that was a rental for not-a-rental, while the Red Sox could have held onto Lackey for 2015 due to the clause in his contract that gave the Red Sox a league minimum option on his deal due to his 2011 Tommy John surgery. However, there was legitimate concern that Lackey wouldn’t actually pitch for the league minimum next year, and given that he’ll be 36 in a few months, he had some leverage in the form of retirement. If Lackey really didn’t want to take the mound for the same salary as some guy from Triple-A, he could have walked away, leaving the Red Sox to either give him a raise/extension or to get nothing for the option.

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Sam Fuld and Completing the A’s

I’m going to tell you something you’re not going to like. You’re going to think this is stupid, and you’re going to want to dismiss this as rubbish, but, I mean, let’s just get right to the point. If nothing else, this is where we’ll start. Early Thursday, the A’s gave up Yoenis Cespedes and more for Jon Lester and more. A little later Thursday, the A’s gave up Tommy Milone for Sam Fuld. Losing Cespedes opened up a spot in the outfield; adding Fuld plugged it. Here is a fun fact:


Cespedes: 2.9 WAR / 600 plate appearances
Fuld: 2.5 WAR / 600 plate appearances

Obviously, Cespedes has a thousand times more natural talent. Obviously, Cespedes has more potential and a higher ceiling. Obviously, Cespedes is younger. Obviously, that’s a little deceptive because Fuld has spent a lot of time as a defensive replacement. Obviously, we can trust the defensive metrics only so much, and obviously, Cespedes is the more marketable player since he has some of the purest right-handed power in the sport. But here is the general message: Sam Fuld is not far and away an inferior overall player, compared to Yoenis Cespedes. At least, they’re somewhat close. And this year, specifically this year, Fuld’s been worth the same WAR in a fraction of the time. So you can see why the A’s are happy to get Fuld back, a few months after designating him for assignment.

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Red Sox Focus on 2015 in Jon Lester Trade

Breaking up is hard to do. Jon Lester is without a doubt one of the 10 best pitchers in Boston Red Sox history. Since he returned to full-time duty with the Sox in 2008, he made 80 more starts than any other Red Sox pitcher. He was one of three players still around from the 2007 World Series championship team. Trading him is going to sting in a way that hasn’t stung for Red Sox fans since Manny Ramirez was traded, or depending on your feelings towards Ramirez, since Nomar Garciaparra was traded. But this wasn’t a typical trade, and getting Yoenis Cespedes back in return for Lester and throw-in Jonny Gomes does take some of the sting out of this deal, and signals to the Sox fan base that they aren’t looking to rebuild.

Cespedes is the power bat the Red Sox have been coveting. It was the one thing, as Buster Olney noted this morning, that isn’t really plentiful in their otherwise stacked farm system. His powerful bat, combined with good defense, makes him a player that really isn’t going to be available on the free-agent market this winter either. Giancarlo Stanton wishcasting has been a thing in Boston for some time, but in order to land Stanton, the Sox would have hard to part with enough prospects that it would have been close to a zero-sum return. They didn’t exactly get the next-best thing — Stanton ranks eighth in isolated power this season, while Cespedes ranks 27th — but considering what they had to give up, it might as well have been. It’s only for one year, as thanks to the contract he signed, Cespedes must be non-tendered, so there will be no compensation pick if he hits free agency after the 2015 season.

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