Deal with it: Red Sox should trade Lester if they do not plan to sign him

Ken Rosenthal

The Red Sox should retain Jon Lester through the July 31 non-waiver deadline only if they truly intend to sign him.

And really, outside of a few obligatory comments from club officials, what evidence is there that the Sox want to do that?

The Sox have talked to Lester. They presumably know what it would take to keep him long-term. And to this point, they have shown no willingness to meet his price.

A trade, then, makes total sense.

The market is starved for elite starting pitchers, and the acquisition costs for David Price and Cole Hamels are likely to be prohibitive.

Trading Lester would yield a far better return than the draft pick the Sox would receive if they made him a qualifying offer and he left as a free agent. At this rate, the team already will qualify for a top 10 “protected” selection; it entered Saturday with the ninth-worst record in the majors.

Lester, meanwhile, has left open the possibility of returning to Boston even if he is traded. A deal, though, would make him ineligible for a qualifying offer, further increasing his market value.


The Sox acquired two highly regarded pitching prospects for Jake Peavy.

For Lester, they could get much more.