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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Does Jon Lester-Cole Hamels Deal Make Sense For Red Sox?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Jon Lester #31 of the ...
Jon Lester's season has been a large disappointment to this point, but would a trade for Cole Hamels from the Phillies make any sense at all?  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
This morning a fellow Red Sox fan brought up a trade rumor he had apparently discovered via Twitter. The proposed deal was Jon Lester for Cole Hamels and conveniently it came after Peter Gammons reported that Lester is "deeply unhappy" in Boston. It's an easy trade to ponder, but does make a bit of sense for the Sox, or either side?

Jon Lester has been a massive disappointment this season, easily in the midst of the worst stretch of his career in the major leagues, but does that mean the Red Sox should trade off his relatively team friendly contract for a rental that would need a new contract to stay in Boston after this season?

Sure, the Phillies would likely jump all over this deal. They're in last place just like the Red Sox and would be able to pick up an established big league starter with 1-2 potential for a player likely to walk after this campaign. What's not to love about it if you're Ruben Amaro Jr.?

Not only would the Phillies pick up a major league ready starter to replace Hamels immediately in their rotation, they get him at a very discounted rate. In total, Lester's deal--signed before the '09 season--was just $30 million over five years, with a $13 million team option for a sixth year in 2014.

Cole Hamels on the other hand would wear a Red Sox uniform for the remainder of this season and walk via free agency. He's not going to get what he's looking for from Ben Cherington and the Sox. Is it worth it to rent him for the rest of a season in which Boston sits 10 games back in the division?

Oh and here's something else to think about. Is Cole Hamel's the type of immediate impact-pitcher that can flip the switch on this dim season? He's 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA for Philadelphia this year, but if his presence isn't enough to carry the Sox into contention, why bother?

If the Red Sox intend to trade Jon Lester, which I'm not opposed to, it needs to be under the right circumstances. Lester-Hamels is not the right scenario for Boston. If I trade him, it's to somehow acquire a front-line starter under team control for a few years at a decent price. Not for a guy that's going to walk in two months.

This trade rumor likely has no traction and is just that, a rumor. It's the kind of thing that we see when the Red Sox are at .500 during the All Star break and 10 games out of relevance. I highly doubt that Ben Cherington would even take the phone call if it was made. Well, at least I hope not. Either way, don't expect to see a new southpaw at the front of Boston's rotation come July 31, unless of course Philly's willing to throw Cliff Lee in a two-for-one deal.

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