The rumbling is getting louder.
With Boston out of contention in the American League East and the non-waiver trade deadline set for 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, the Red Sox are taking calls about potential trades for Jon Lester, with the likelihood increasing that the ace left-hander could be dealt this week.
It makes sense. Under owner John Henry, the Red Sox have been averse to signing over-30 pitchers to free agent contracts in excess of four years. And with Lester having the best season of his career, he figures to be seeking a contract in line with the six-year, $144 million deal that left-hander Cole Hamels signed with the Phillies in 2012.
Thus, the price for Lester might be far more than the Sox are willing to pay. In addition, Henry told the Boston Herald last week that the Red Sox agreed to suspend negotiations with Lester until after the season.
It is believed the Red Sox told teams they would need at least two elite-level prospects in any deal for Lester.
The Los Angeles Dodgers might still be the front-runner, and they could offer a package fronted by touted center fielder Joc Pederson.
The St. Louis Cardinals could move either of their outfield prospects, Oscar Taveras or Randal Grichuk.Seven National League teams (the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers and San Francisco Giants) are within two games of their division lead.
INJURIES OPEN DOOR
In the span of 24 hours, the Athletics lost both of their primary center fielders.
Starter Coco Crisp returned to Oakland to undergo an MRI exam on a sore neck that has bothered him for most of the season, while reserve outfielder Craig Gentry landed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a broken right hand he sustained Sunday night in the series finale at Texas.
Those developments opened the door for speedy center fielder Billy Burns, whose extensive at-bats during spring training caught the eyes of the Oakland brass. Burns made his major league debut Monday night with a flyout during an at-bat off the bench in the ninth inning. He became the first rookie to make an appearance for Oakland this season.
"I felt OK," Burns said. "I think everything was kind of a fog to me, with all the lights, and it just being my first AB. Everything was happening fast, I guess. I felt OK, I wasn't too nervous."
Given the uncertainty surround Crisp and Gentry, Burns was a needed addition. He is a switch hitter but is stronger from the right side of the plate, which increases the likelihood that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes will start in center field against right-handed pitching.
ARCHER STICKS TO GUNS
One day after delivering the latest parting shot in the growing Rays-Red Sox rivalry, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer insists he's not mad at Red Sox DH David Ortiz.
But it doesn't mean Archer is backing off his comments.
"Do I regret saying the truth?" Archer said. "No."
Archer criticized Ortiz for showboating after Sunday's three-run homer, with the veteran slugger flipping his bat and trotting around the bases. Archer echoed left-hander David Price's previous suggestion that Ortiz sometimes acts like he's "bigger than the game." Ortiz responded that Archer hasn't been in the league long enough to complain about it.
"I heard what he said, and my immediate thought was you're never too youthful to tell the truth and say things how you see them," Archer said before Monday's game against the Brewers. "'Agitated' is not the right word. 'Angry' is not the right word. He pimped a home run off me. I mean, I've gotten excited before, and they blow that out of proportion too, saying that I kissed my bicep (during a start against the Red Sox on June 12, 2013). Man, but honestly, I was in the infant stages of my career then.
"People say, 'You should act like you've been there before.' At that time in my career, I had never been there. At that time in my career, I had never been there. So I think we all know that's how he plays the game. I don't take back what I said, but what I said was true. I never saw Hank Aaron flip his bat. I'm not comparing the two, but they're obviously in the same class of player as far as what they've accomplished. But I guess different people have different ways of reacting. I mean, that's just who he is."
Archer did think that his comments were blown out of proportion; he was mentioned on the ticker of national television shows and a hot topic on ESPN's First Take Monday morning.