A's Trade for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and ... Sam Fuld?

By Jason Wojciechowski on July 31, 2014 at 9:26 AM

I'd link, but you can find this news anywhere. First trade:

  1. Yoenis Cespedes and the 2015 competitive balance pick for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes

The A's wound up with the second competitive balance pick in "Round B," which means it's something like the 70th overall pick. Andrelton Simmons was taken 70th overall in 2010. Mitch Talbot in 2002. John Vander Wal in 1987. It's a fine pick, but it shouldn't cause anyone to lose sleep.

Cespedes, after a sterling 2012 at the plate paired with some struggles in center field, has settled into a .275 to .280 True Average hitter with probably a little bit above average range in left field and a cannon arm that's a genuine asset. All told, he's an above-average player, a 3-WAR type with the physical potential to be more but the realization that, at 28 and with 1,546 regular-season plate appearances under his belt, this is probably what he is. What he is is nothing to sneeze at, but for $10.5 million in 2015, that means the A's would have been paying under the market price but not way under the market price.

Jonny Gomes has struggled this year, but over the course of his career, he's essentially the same hitter as Cespedes, right down to the source of his value: more power than OBP. He's not much of a defender, though he's not as bad as he looks, and his arm, while obviously not in the Cespedes class, is nothing to sneeze at. He's a free agent after this year, so it doesn't matter how much money he's making.

And Jon Lester is having an incredible year at exactly the right time, as he heads into free agency. If the season ended today, he'd set new personal bests in ERA, FIP, and walks per nine, and his strikeouts are back to their peak 2009-10 level. His true talent is probably something closer to a 3.5 ERA than a 2.5, but if you remember the table I made after the Samardzija trade, you'll notice that that makes him either the A's ace or their co-ace with Sonny Gray or their co-co-ace with Gray and Samardzija, depending on what numbers you prefer to believe. He's an upgrade on Jason Hammel (though you'd have to believe that Hammel is as bad as he's looked in his few starts in Oakland to think it's a big upgrade), and if Jesse Chavez breaks down under his workload or Scott Kazmir breaks down under his Kazmirity, Lester is an upgrade on Tom Milone.

This deal is this deal. We could do deep dives and come out with opinions ranging from A+ to F-, probably, but at a glance it seems fair and reasonable and probably even the right thing for the A's to do as a matter of balancing their present and their future.

  1. Tom Milone for Sam Fuld

This deal, though, mystifies me. I don't get it. Fuld is probably better than Billy Burns, sure. And the A's know more about the injury situation of Coco Crisp than we do. But if you want a center fielder to cover the spot (and platoon with Craig Gentry) and you want someone like Sam Fuld, ideally you can get Sam Fuld for a lot less than Tom Milone, a no. 4 starter under team and cost control for years to come.

And if you want to trade Tom Milone because he's unhappy with being demoted despite being an above-average pitcher this year, that's fine, but you'd think you could get more for him than a two-month rental of a mediocre outfielder, right?

I don't know, maybe not. Maybe I'm overreacting to a minor deal that nobody's going to regret in any particular fashion. The A's rotation for 2015 is essentially set already (Gray, Kazmir, Samardzija, Chavez, Pomeranz, with Griffin and Parker returning at some point midyear), so Milone is just insurance and depth. Obviously, since he was in Triple-A already.

So now what do the A's lineups look like? I'm going to assume that Coco Crisp is hitting the disabled list.

v. LHP
C: Norris
1B: Moss?
2B: Punto
SS: Lowrie
3B: Donaldson
LF: Gomes
CF: Burns?
RF: Reddick
DH: Callaspo?

v. RHP
C: Norris
1B: Moss / Vogt
2B: Sogard
SS: Lowrie
3B: Donaldson
LF: Vogt / Moss
CF: Fuld
RF: Reddick
DH: Jaso

I don't know. I don't even know anymore. I'm broken. Billy Beane broke my head.