There is no question that the Blue Jays are going to need some help if they are serious in trying to clinch a playoff spot. While there is a concern regarding the offense, I believe GM Alex Anthopoulos should be trying to acquire a pitcher. With R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle struggling, Drew Hutchison and J.A. Happ inconsistant, and the uncertainty of the return of Brandon Morrow, the rotation should be a top priority. And they should not be going after just any pitcher. With much attention being paid to Tampa Bay’s David Price and where he is going to be traded to, perhaps the pitcher the Blue Jays should set their sights on is Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester.
Going after Lester makes sense. Contract talks between the Red Sox and Lester seemed to have hit a snag. After management offered what many believe is an “insulting” 4-year, $70 Million contract extension earlier this season, some insiders believe Lester’s days as a Red Sox maybe over. While there are teams lining up to acquire Price, not a lot of noise is being made about Lester. This could be a good time for Anthopoulos to snag an ace right under people’s noses.
I’ve always liked Lester for a number of reasons. He is durable, a bulldog, and lives for the big game. Talent is one thing, pedigree is another. I would take the latter over the former. There is something about being surrounded with people who have been through this before. Passion can get you far, but experience can put you ahead of the pack. His presence in the Blue Jay clubhouse will rub off on Hutchison and Stroman and even veterans like Dickey and Buehrle.
Lester also has what Price doesn’t, a World Series ring (2 in fact). Lester is also good when it matters the most — in the playoffs (6-4, 11 GS, 76.2 IP, 2.11 ERA; 3-0, 3 GS, 21 IP, 0.43 ERA in World Series). Compare that with Price’s numbers (1-4, 9 GP, 4 GS, 32 IP, 5.06 ERA) and you will see that Lester is a more attractive option. When the Red Sox were going after John Farrell to be their Manager after the 2012 season, I would have asked about Lester just to see how badly they really wanted Farrell.
Now that we’ve established who the Blue Jays should get, the next thing is how much is it going to cost? The Blue Jays will likely have to give up a top pitching prospect (Aaron Sanchez or Stroman) and at least one other high-level player (Kevin Pillar or Ryan Goins) in order to get Lester prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Add to that, there are also no guarantees that Lester will stay with the Blue Jays beyond this season. If the Blue Jays decide to wait until the off-season, there is a good chance they could land Lester as a free agent. Of course, teams like the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves will be pursuing for his services. But we’ve seen in the past that the Blue Jays come out of nowhere and sign a big time free-agent or pull off a big trade involving a high-caliber player.
With July 31st approaching, trade talks will heat up. I’m confident Anthopoulos will add a player. Erik Kratz currently wears number 31 for the Blue Jays. It will be interesting to see who wears that number for the Blue Jays on August 1st.
UPDATE JULY 31:
The Red Sox decided to trade Lester along with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.