MLB Trade Rumors: Red Sox Jon Lester, Rays’ David Price, Phillies Jonathan Papelbon On The Block

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Jon Lester
As many as 17 teams reportedly scouted Boston starting pitcher Jon Lester at Tropicana Field Friday night.

The MLB trade deadline is only five days away and Saturday’s deal between the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants could be just start of a slew of highly speculated deals.

Boston agreed to send starting pitcher Jake Peavy to the Giants for prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, as reported by CBS Sports.

The Sox held on to be Peavy for just under a year, acquiring him in a three-team deal with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers on July 30 last year. But he’s struggled in Boston, going 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts.

On paper the deal looks solid for both teams, with Boston gaining two highly rated prospects and the Giants getting a starter that can help them against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West division race.

Now Boston could also be more comfortable in trading top starter Jon Lester. With a 10-7 record in 21 starts and with a 2.52 ERA and 149 strikeouts, the 30-year-old is Boston’s ace, but he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and the two sides can’t agree on an extension.

Boston is also 10 1/2 games back in the American League East standings, and unless they get hot during the second half of the season they will remain sellers on the trade market. According to WEEI.com, the Sox offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal during spring training but he declined, and now team owner John Henry and president Larry Lucchino have said publicly that Lester and his agents would rather discuss a new contract at the end of the season.

WEEI, however, cited sources that said Lester would be open to negotiations if Boston’s offer started in the five-year, $110 million to $120 million range. Still the Sox hope Lester’s desire to continue his career at Fenway Park will outweigh the extra dollars he can sign for during free agency. Lester also said he would even re-sign with Boston if he was traded.

"Yeah, why not?'' Lester said Friday to ESPN Boston. "I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand.

"Like I said, no hard feelings. I know what they have to do for their organization. If that involves me, so be it. If it doesn't, I'll keep running out there every five days, pitching, and like I said, hopefully November we'll get something done.''

There is a long list of suitors who are showing interest in Lester, and his Tampa Bay Rays counterpart David Price. During Friday’s matchup of Lester vs. Price, as many as 17 teams had scouts in attendance, according to reports from ESPN Boston and Fox Sports.

 

Price wound up with his 11th victory of the season, going eight innings and letting up eight hits and three earned runs with 10 strikeouts. Lester went six, and looked very solid for the first four innings, but struggled with a 35-pitch fifth inning.

Though several of those teams are playoff contenders, based Lester’s comments, none might be willing to part with prospects or veterans for a three-month loan.

As for Price, the four-time All-Star is only two years removed from his AL Cy Young campaign and has linked to trade rumors for most of the season. The 28-year-old is eligible for arbitration in 2015.

The first-place Orioles would be an intriguing spot for Price, but the Rays might not want to face him down the line. The Mariners reportedly engaged Tampa Bay earlier this month, with pitching prospect Taijuan Walker leading a package of three young players for Price, CBS Sports reported.  But Seattle at first hesitated at including Walker, and they seem inclined to hold on to prospects like hitter D.J. Peterson and lefty James Paxton. Price has also said that he doesn’t want to go to the Mariners and that he wouldn’t sign an extension.

In other news, the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly willing to pay some of the $18 million left on closer Jonathan Papelbon’s contract, but there don’t seem to be many takers.

Teams are especially wary of taking on Papelbon’s deak, which will pay him $13 million next season and the same amount again in 2016 if he plays in 55 games, CBS Sports reported Friday. The same report mentions the Pirates, Giants and Dodgers as teams looking to flesh out their bullpen, but none are truly interested in Papelbon.

Now in his 10th season, Papelbon has notched 24 saves and an excellent 1.91 ERA in 42 appearances this season, by far his best in Philadelphia and similar to his best seasons with the Red Sox.

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