Aug 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) pitches during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics: Grading the Jon Lester Trade

The Oakland Athletics traded for left-handed pitcher Jon Lester on Thursday, and he made his first start for Oakland today.

As if Oakland didn’t have enough All-star caliber pitchers already, they decided to add another on the morning of July 31st, the day of the MLB trade deadline. Lester, although his stats don’t show it, is having a career year. He’s now 11-7 on the year, which doesn’t sound amazing. However, he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox, who after winning the World Series last season, are at the bottom of the American League East with a 49-60 record.

Over the last three years, Lester has consistently brought his ERA down. In 2012, he had a 4.82 ERA. Last year, he brought it down to 3.75. This year, he has a respectable 2.59 ERA, as well as a career high 6.8 innings pitches per start.

To acquire Lester, the A’s had to pay a price though, and that price was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes was having a subpar year, only hitting .256, with an on base percentage barely over .300. In the month of July, he’s hitting a measly .198 with only three home runs. Although he has been in a slump, Cespedes is still a power threat, and now that he is going to Fenway Park, a hitter’s ballpark, you’ll likely see those numbers increase in the upcoming months.

This trade just goes to show how serious Billy Beane and the A’s are about not only making the postseason, but about winning it all. Taking a power bat out of the lineup hurts, but pitching is really the key factor for any team if they want to win.

Jonny Gomes, who played for the A’s in 2012, was also included in the trade. Gomes is only hitting .239 with six home runs this season. A’s fans can only hope to see a late power surge from Gomes.

If I had to grade this trade on a scale of one to 10, I’d give it an eight out of 10.

As I said before, teams can never have enough pitching, especially nowadays with Tommy John surgery becoming a major concern for pitchers all over the league. With the A’s trading for Lester, it gives them depth in the rotation should anything happen to one of the other starters.

Another positive from the Lester trade is the playoff experience Lester brings. He’s pitched in 13 playoff games, going six and four in those games with an ERA of 2.11.

In the three games that Lester has pitched in the World Series, Lester is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA. Yes, you read that right: a 0.43 ERA, a Major League low for pitchers who’ve pitched a minimum of 20 innings in the World Series.

The A’s are stacked with pitching. Their main concern now is on the offensive side, which wasn’t the greatest, and now with Cespedes gone, places a void in the cleanup spot. The Athletics have scratched and clawed their way to the best record in the league and that was with Cespedes. Gomes is placed in a tough position having to supply some power, but let’s be honest, he isn’t nearly as big of a threat as even a struggling Cespedes is.

With David Price going to the Detroit Tigers, they now pose a threat to the A’s for best starting rotation in the MLB. Everyone is hoping for a Oakland – Detroit showdown in the American League Championship Series. Take a look at the probable match ups:

How would you grade this trade and why?

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Tags: Jon Lester MLB Trade Deadline Oakland Athletics Yoenis Cespedes

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