The Red Sox are expected to deal Jon Lester and the Pirates are a “dark horse”

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Jon Lester’s name has been out there for a long time, but today there seems to be a consensus forming that the Red Sox will absolutely trade Jon Lester before Thursday’s trade deadline. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan says “sentiment among competing executives is unanimous” that the Red Sox will deal him. Many other reporters are echoing that sentiment.

There are a ton of teams who could use Lester, but the Pirates are being mentioned as a “dark horse.” Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo note that the Pirates could use an ace as much as anyone — they’re in a 3-4 team dogfight for the NL Central — but that they have a deep farm system and that prospect outfielder Josh Bell is “at the center” of talks.

If that doesn’t work the Dodgers, Brewers, Blue Jays and Orioles are candidates. While the latter teams are in the AL East with the Sox, Boston could probably deal with that and could probably safely assume Lester would test the free agent market following the season thereby not being a pain to his old mates several times a year if dealt to Baltimore or Toronto.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.