Praise Where It's DueTrading Jon Lester was not a good idea in the long run for the Boston Red Sox. However, in the short-run, the team's management deserves congratulations for obtaining Yoenis Cespedes in return for Lester.
An actual breathing 2014 All-Star outfielder still under contract for about $10 million in 2015 is a far, far greater return than I ever expected the Sox to receive for Lester. Deadline trades of proven veterans usually get back prospects beloved by Baseball America whose worth cannot even start to be determined until the next spring training.
It's an especially high price coming from the Athletics, a franchise whose acquisition of Lester figures to be a pure late season rental play. If Oakland enters a competitive bid for free agent Lester come next winter, it'll be the most shocking development of the offseason.
So take a bow, Boston front office. It's as good a trade as it can be for the Red Sox. Of course, that's not nearly as good as this trade is for Jon Lester. The lefty will get to make his final free agency pitch by pitching in a pennant race and the playoffs for a team whose chance of winning the World Series is as good or better than any other team's. If he does well, as he has so far in 2014, this can only enhance Lester's bargaining position when November rolls around.
My praise for the Sox' management is genuine. But it is also tempered by the knowledge that well struck bad bargains seldom add up to genuine prosperity.