We didn’t see this coming: WEEI’s Alex Speier reports that the Oaland Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes.
This makes the third front line starting pitcher added to the A’s rotation in less than a month, with Lester joining Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel who came to Oakland from Chicago at the beginning of July. Along with Sonny Gray, this gives the A’s perhaps the best starting rotation in the American League. Possibly in all of baseball. It certainly signals that the A’s are going for it without hesitation or pause in 2014.
For the Red Sox: a big problem — production in the outfield — is solved. They didn’t get the sorts of prospects everyone expected they’d get. But in Cespedes they received one of the most powerful hitters in the game who is under team control through 2015. And of course the Red Sox have the means to extend Cespedes if they like what they see from him over the next year and a half. It is worth wondering if his batting line — already good on the power side, even if lacking in the on-base side of things — improves in a more hitter-friendly park like Fenway.
We’ll have much more on the fallout from this monster deal, including what it means for Boston, for Oakland and for the rest of baseball as the day goes on.
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.