Boston Red Sox left-handed ace Jon Lester was traded to the Oakland A's on Thursday morning as general manager Billy Beane continues his all-in push for a World Series.
But to get Lester, the A's reportedly will part with All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a 28-year-old who served as the big bat in the middle of Oakland's balanced offense. Minus Cespedes, the A's might be required to make another move to bolster the offense.
Lester gives Oakland a nearly unrivaled one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Beane acquired ace right-hander Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs and the rotation also includes Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, who could be frontline starters on other teams.
The trade will send Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the A's. Lester is ticketed for free agency at the end of the season, as is Samardzija. The A's approach of building from within was tossed out of the window with two blockbuster trades in the past 20 days.
Lester, 30, is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 149 strikeouts against 32 walks in 143 innings this season. He was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday in anticipation of a possible trade after the two sides publicly discussed calling off contract negotiations until the offseason.
The Red Sox will have Cespedes under contract through the 2015 season. In his third major league season, Cespedes is batting .256 with 17 home runs and 67 RBI, and is a strong defensive outfielder.
The deal could signal a sell-off for the Red Sox, who traded right-handed starter Jake Peavy to the Giants last week and would be willing to move John Lackey's contract before Thursday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.