Red Sox and Rays Could Trade Their Pitching Aces

As Major League Baseball heads toward the backstretch of the season, trade rumors abound. A number of players on teams not likely to reach the postseason now have uncertain futures as they could be traded to a contender.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are playing in Tampa this weekend and have similar storylines: struggles during the entire season and questions about what to do with their best starting pitchers.

Boston’s World Series honeymoon was short-lived when they faced the proposition of losing Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew. The latter returned to the Red Sox this past May.

However, the offense overall is hitting just .248 as a team, with just 79 home runs.

As far as Boston’s pitchers are concerned, the starting rotation has been inconsistent with Jake Peavy giving up the home run ball too often and Clay Buchholz allowing close to 11 hits per each nine innings pitched.

Jon Lester the ace on the squad has pitched well but sits in the final year of his $43 million six-year contract. Contract talks will not resume until after the season.

The original offer to Lester was declined during spring training and now with Boston 9 ½ games out of first and 6 ½ out of the second wildcard spot, thoughts of a trade enter the picture.

It is very likely Lester could be traded prior to the July 31 trade deadline or could be pitching out his last season as a Red Sox.

Tampa is looking at somewhat of the same scenario. The Rays have not played as they had expected to this season after their fourth straight season of 90 wins or more.

However, Tampa has won 26 of its past 37 and are only 3 ½ games out of the second wildcard spot. The odds they reach the playoffs are still low but in a mediocre AL East, anything can happen.

Tampa’s ace David Price is in a situation similar to Jon Lester. He will be due for arbitration at the end of this season and could get as much as $20 million for a season before becoming a free agent at the end of next season.

If Price were traded, it would be upsetting for fans in Tampa as the veteran southpaw is having possibly his best season as a pro. He has career bests in strikeout to walk ratio of 8.2, 10 strikeouts and 1.2 walks per 9 innings, a FIP of 3.01, and a 1.04 WHIP.

Both teams must make hard decisions by late next week. If they trade their ace, they are saying the season is lost and let’s look to the future.

If they hold onto their ace, they could finish the season on the outside looking in for the postseason and have the likelihood of having to pay top dollars for their two aces or lose them to free agency.

If I were a betting man I would say Lester would be in a uniform of a contender by next Thursday’s deadline, while Price will remain in a Tampa uniform as they battle to make the postseason.

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