After an insanely busy, exciting and franchise-changing trade deadline day for Boston, Red Sox Nation was able to finally catch its breath and sit back to analyze exactly what happened yesterday. Acquiring Allen Craig and Joe Kelly in return for John Lackey was an eye-catcher for sure, but Ben Cherington and Billy Beane getting together resulted in perhaps the biggest move of the entire day – Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes heading to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes.
The Red Sox have been lacking run production and power in their lineup all season due to a variety of reasons including injuries, under-performance from some of the veterans and growing pains for their up-and-comers. Cespedes immediately adds an important middle-of-the-lineup bat that may finally provide David Ortiz and Mike Napoli some of the protection they’ve been seeking. His swing and style of play projects very well at Fenway.
If you’re a fan of Jon Lester, (and how many Red Sox fans who have watched him grow from a young gunslinger to a crafty, two-time world champion, work-horse ace, aren’t?) the move still may leave a bad taste in your mouth. Removing the loss of Lester from the table, the biggest complaint from most analysts and fans is the fact that Cespedes is only signed through next season before he will become a free agent. Also, today Ken Rosenthal reported that his contract is structured so he will have to be granted his “unconditional release”, meaning the Red Sox will not be granted the opportunity to make him a qualifying offer.
Many fans are now hoping that the Red Sox can perhaps extend Cespedes prior to next season. They need to get that out of their heads. This is his chance to shine, meaning that it will also be his chance to cash in after next season if he succeeds. Sox fans are always antsy, World Series winners last year or not, and they want the team to improve as quickly as possible, but let’s see what Cespedes can offer for the rest of this season before we get carried away.
Let’s see what he and Papi can bring to the table as a formidable 1-2 combo. Perhaps if some offense starts popping up from the middle of the lineup, we’ll see some of their teammates settle down and begin to contribute. Pedroia can bat in his favorite spot in the lineup at number two and there won’t be as much pressure on Napoli to crush the ball every at-bat.
More importantly, the Red Sox front office was able to get a jump start on revamping a lineup that needed a serious overhaul for 2015. Yoenis Cespedes is just the type of charismatic talent that could be a perfect bridge to the future of the team – Bogaerts, Middlebrooks and Bradley will all have ample opportunity to get comfortable and become regular contributors. So let’s not be so worried about contracts and salaries for just a little while after having that conversation for weeks on end – let’s appreciate Cespedes for what he brings right now and watch Cherington’s cherished farm system come into their own before we start worrying about who will play right field in three years.