ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, in a conference call with reporters following the trade of pitcher Jake Peavy, did not rule out a trade of ace left-hander Jon Lester, saying the club expected to listen to offers on numerous players in the five days before the trading deadline.
With the Red Sox entering play Saturday night 10 ½ games out of first place in the AL East and 7 ½ games out of a wild-card spot with 59 games to play, Cherington essentially conceded that the Sox will not be competing to play in October. Losing four straight games during a stretch against division rivals this week cemented that stance.
“It’s been a disappointing week, a little surprising even,’’ Cherington said. “We ran off a bunch of wins, then a big win Monday night up in Toronto. We kept thinking as of Tuesday we were looking toward continuing that run and adding wins. I really thought that we would. It hasn’t happened.
“As you start marking down the days before Thursday, it does mean something. There’s a reason why they call it a deadline. We have to be mindful of what that means, where we are, what the math says about our chances.’’
After Boston’s 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay Friday night, Lester said he would not be surprised by a trade, saying the organization needed to do what was in its best interests and he would bear no hard feelings in that event.
Asked the likelihood of trading Lester, Cherington said, “I’m not going to comment on any particular player. We have to talk to teams, we have to listen to what teams are looking to do and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there. Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with the mind toward building as quickly as possible toward April of 2015.
“That might mean doing very little. That might mean doing a bunch of stuff that might be in between that. I don’t know yet.
“You guys know how I feel about Jon. We’re certainly happy that statement reflects how he feels about the relationship. We feel good about our relationship with him. Our position hasn’t changed. We certainly look for Jon to be here in 2015.’’
Cherington said the Sox are not yet close to another deal.
“Not there yet,’’ he said. “No closing in on anything yet but we’re listening, and we'll see how the rest of the week goes.’’