By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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Billy Beane has been adamant about his team winning the World Series in 2014, and he fired yet another salvo on the July 31st deadline.
Lets have the finances out of the way 1st.
Jon Lester, 30, is in the last year of his contract, and will be a Free Agent after this year.
There is no shot at the man signing with the Athletics after this year. however the A’s will receive a compensatory pick for giving him a qualifying offer following 2014.
The LHP wll make approximately $4 MIL the rest of the season.
Yoenis Cespedes, 28, is signed through the 2015 at $9 MIL per year, and will become a Free Agent after next year.
As per the article 20B section of the CBA, he negotiated that he would be free and clear once his original 4 YRs/$36 MIL deal with the A’s was completed – prior to the 2012 campaign.
The 2013 and 2014 HR Derby winner will make just south of $3 MIL for the rest of this year.
Jonny Gomes 33, will make about $1.5 MIL for the duration of the 2014 year, and will become a Free Agent this winter.
This trade works on so many levels.
Red Sox End
The Red Sox acquire a cleanup hitter to protect Ortiz in the lineup, and a guy who can mash the hell out of the ball. Cespedes could hit 30+ HRs and add 100+ RBI quite easily with Boston next year.
If Lester signs back with the Red Sox past this year for the future, they have essentially added a potent bat to a 2015 Boston squad,
Cespedes also helps the team immediately, which is never a bad thing.
The Red Sox have struggled for offensive production out of their Outfield this year, with injuries to Shane Victorino, inconsistent play from Jonny Gomes, and struggles from players such as: Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley JR and Daniel Nava (early).
One guy who is not struggling is rookie Brock Holt, and he has hit exceptionally well in the bigs this season.
Lester for a 4th hitter in the Majors for one more year, plus divesting yourself of about $2.5 MIL for the remainder of this season in salary. You can add that savings into the hopper to sign Lester back in Free Agency.
Also, with not having to spend a ton of cash on a much needed OF bat for 2015, you may save even more cash for the club to sign Lester next campaign.
Lets make no bones about it, this deal was all about arming themselves for the playoffs. With the conditional pick and the compensation pick likely evening out, this was about receiving the bonafide #1 for post season.
The Athletics road to a World Series may find them through the Detroit Tigers, and they have just brought on a playoff assassin – with a 2.11 ERA in 76.2 IP worth of work in October.
Lester has been on 2 World Series staffs, and will not be a victim of experience.
As good as Jeff Samardzija has been, he has only ever appeared in 1 inning in his postseason career.
Another thing on this accord, is that the A’s are still fighting it out with the Angels for 1st place in the AL West. With just a 2.5 Games lead, and s big series coming down the pike versus the Halo’s at the end of August, the division is still in question.
Oakland may win 95 games and be the 1st Wild Card, forcing a play in game for the Wild Card. A contest that may see Felix Hernandez or James Shields be the opposite pitcher, or a vaunted offense like the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lester is 15 – 9 lifetime versus Toronto with a respectable ERA of 3.82. Not bad when you consider all the tilts are hosted at SkyDome or Fenway Park.
Lester is also 15 – 4 versus the Baltimore Orioles, and a 2.78 ERA career versus the Orioles.
Jonny Gomes has played with the A’s before, and should fit right into the atmosphere as a OF/DH off of the bench.
Against LHP, Gomes could be used as the DH. He has a .831 OPS with 19 RBI in just 116 AB.
John Jaso handles LHP really bad, but has an .856 OPS versus RHP. Look for these two to be in a defined platoon.
Not even an hour after this deal went down. Beane traded Tommy Millone for OF utility man Sam Fuld. No doubt the Moneyball GM had this transaction in the can already
Billy Burns recent promotion could also be a factor. He started in CF last night, and has stolen 51 bags in 91 Games for Midland (AA affiliate). Bob Melvin may give him a chance to play while Craig Gentry recovers from his broken hand.
Burns could definitely be used nicely when the rosters expand to 40 players in September.
The Athletics are one of the deeper power teams in the game of MLB right now, with Moss and Donaldson both having 23 HRs apiece.
The combination of Jaso, Vogt and Norris has accounted for 22 HRs and 101 RBI in 638 AB, with all of them having OBP’s north of .358 and OPS’s north of .824.
Josh Reddick also has crushed RHP in 2014, with a .843 OPS. His play in the last week or so has seen him put up a .978 OPS in 31 AB.
Chavez could be moved back to the Bullpen as his Innings have mounted up higher than he has ever.
The salary ramifications actually bode well for the A’s, as they have cleared up $9 MIL off of the books for the 2015 campaign.
Beane has figured out a way to have a #1 and #2 starter this season without breaking the bank with multi year big contracts.
By the way. the pitching staff looks good for 2015 as well with Samardzija. Kazmir and Gray topping the staff, with a combination potentially of Chavez/Pomeranz to back end it, or the returning starters of A.J. Griffin and/or Jarrod Parker coming back from TJ Surgery.
Yes it was a big price tag in dealing Cespedes away, but the slugger would have been leaving Oakland following the 2015 season anyway.
Perhaps with some health next year, the team could dole out a deal with one of their Starters for a slugger, or even this winter. Who knows, Beane may have another ‘Ace of Spades’ up his sleeve today – and rattle off another impressive move.
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