After a relatively slow start to the 2012-2013 offseason for the Red Sox (and every other team except the Blue Jays), they may just be looking to shake things up. Rumors have surfaced to a deal between the Red Sox and Royals centering around Jon Lester and Wil Myers. Lester has been a cornerstone of the Boston rotation ever since winning 16 games and posting a 3.21 ERA in 2008. However, he’s fallen off the table a bit ever since September 2011 and had a disappointing 2012 season where he went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA.
Lester is all but certain to be better than that in 2013. He may not be the same pitcher as he was pre-2012, but his mistakes looked largely mechanical rather than stuff-wise. Hopefully former pitching coach and newly acquired manager John Farrell can get him sorted out to the #2 or #3 starter he should be. His strikeout and walk rates have gotten progressively worse since setting career highs in 2009 and 2008, respectively, but hopefully he can sort that out in 2013. Bill James projects him for a 12-12 record and 3.71 ERA in 2013, with his strikeout rate climbing up to 8.19 from a career low 7.28 in 2012.
Wil Myers isn’t as well known as Lester, but among baseball circles, he generated a ton of hype this past year. Already the Royals top prospect, Myers made a run at being a Top 10, possibly a Top 5 prospect in all of baseball after a magnificent 2012 year. Between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, he hit to a .314/.387/.600 slash line with 37 home runs and 109 RBIs.
Myers is only 21 years old and if he isn’t right now, is very close to being major league ready. He did strike out 26.8% of the time, but also walked 11.6% of the time– a quite respectable rate. A right fielder, he would probably compete for a starting job during spring training. As a right-hander with ample power, Myers would likely anchor that job for years to come and be a very good player.
Just by Myers’ ceiling alone, it would be very hard to turn down a Lester-Myers trade straight up. Lester is a question mark coming off a rough 2012 campaign, and his trade would enable the Red Sox to sign some big money free agents. Although the $11.625 million left on his contract (he also has a $13 million option for 2014) isn’t much, it would give them more payroll space. They could use an even more open payroll to sign a solid pitcher of the likes of Anibal Sanchez or Edwin Jackson.
If the Royals were willing to trade Myers for Lester alone, I would probably make the deal. If the Red Sox had to add a kicker (depending on the size), I would be more inclined to turn down the offer despite Myers’ ceiling. It’s true that Lester has the potential to return to the #2 starter stud he once was. However, it’s equally likely that his decline will continue and Myers will become a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate for the Royals. The details of the trade are unknown, but if it’s Lester or Myers straight up, I’d strongly advise Ben Cherington to take that deal.