While the Pittsburgh Pirates may have emerged as a darkhorse candidate to land Jon Lester prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, the club is apparently unwilling to consider moving their top prospects in a potential deal. This revelation comes courtesy of MLB.com’s Tom Singer, who specifically notes that the club has taken Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, and Austin Meadows off the table.
While this doesn’t necessarily rule out a potential deal, it does likely hinder Pittsburgh’s chances at presenting the best package to entice the Boston Red Sox into completing a deal.
Singer does also note that the Pirates are working to their own deadline here. Lester is slated to start on Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates – perhaps like others reportedly in the mix for Lester – don’t want him making his next start for the Red Sox, but would rather he “saved those bullets” for use in their uniform.
The 30 year old left-hander is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, posting a 2.52 ERA and 1.119 WHIP through 143.0 IP on the season for Boston. The Red Sox and Lester have been unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension up to this point, fueling the recent expectation that he’s going to be moved before the deadline. Boston’s poor record coupled with Lester’s success in the postseason make a deal seem likely, as he’s bound to bring back a solid return.
Pittsburgh is just one of many teams in contention who’ve been linked to Lester in recent days.
However, the apparent unwillingness to move their top prospects could push the Pirates out of the pictures. Singer adds that the team is trying to build a package around Alen Hanson and Jacoby Jones instead, but that seems unlikely to tempt the Red Sox enough to agree to a deal. Hanson, a shortstop, is at Double-A and is batting .281/.323/.438 in his second year at the level. His prospect status has dipped a bit in the past twelve months. Jones, an outfielder by trade who has also been playing a lot of shortstop this season, is hitting .291/.353/.480 with 16 HR at Class-A.
Boston’s history at shortstop is well known, as the franchise has struggled to find a permanent option there long term but neither of these players would appear to be more appealing options than what the team currently has in house. Xander Bogaerts could slide back over to the position for the season’s final two months if they are able to move Stephen Drew, allowing Will Middlebrooks to play third base. Devan Marrero also recently was bumped up to Triple-A and many view him as the organization’s “shortstop of the future” if Bogaerts ends up at third base permanently.