ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Trading Jake Peavy was a foregone conclusion. The Red Sox have a surplus of young starting pitchers they can slide into the back end of their rotation, and as of Thursday the Giants had emerged as the leading suitors for the veteran right-hander, consummating the deal Saturday.
With five days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, however, a Sox source acknowledged “we’re working on a lot of things,” and with the team sinking fast in the AL East, Boston’s willingness to part ways with other players on the big-league roster is increasing exponentially.
Red Sox ace Jon Lester on Friday night sounded as if he is prepared to be dealt, saying GM Ben Cherington has to do what’s right for the organization and adding that he would bear no hard feelings. Lester said he would consider re-signing with the Sox as a free agent even if they traded him.
One major-league source said the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Rays ace David Price, have had discussions with the Sox regarding Lester, but if so, those talks have not progressed very far to date. The Dodgers were Boston’s trading partner for the blockbuster 2012 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett west.
The Kansas City Royals have followed Jonny Gomes all week as they seek a right-handed bat to add to their lineup. Gomes, a free agent at the end of the season, did not have a good game afield Friday night. Though he was not charged with an error, he dropped a catchable ball hit by Sean Rodriguez in the second inning (it was scored a double) and overran a soft flare by Ben Zobrist, allowing a run to score in Tampa Bay’s decisive four-run seventh.
At the plate, Gomes had an opposite-field single in four trips, striking out twice. But he has a very impressive slash line of .312/.409/.450/.859 against left-handers, not to mention an impressive track record of playing for playoff teams in St. Petersburg (the Rays), Cincinnati, Oakland and Boston.
Another player drawing considerable attention from other clubs -- there were at least 17 teams scouting the Sox here Friday -- is left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, who like Lester is a potential free agent.
Miller is enjoying the best season of his big-league career, averaging 14.6 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings, with a devastating putaway combination of a 95 mph fastball and nasty slider. Miller, 29, is being paid $1.9 million this season, so he would be a relatively inexpensive rental dollar-wise for a contender seeking a dominating late-inning reliever. The Atlanta Braves were identified early as a potential trade partner, and the Braves had a scout here this weekend.
The Sox have not had discussions with Miller about an extension, the pitcher said this week. “That only happens when fans are clamoring for a guy, like Jon Lester,” he said with a smile.
Miller admitted that he is curious to see what his value might be on the open market, but insists he is not focused on the trade deadline or free agency.
“That’s the least of my worries,” he said. “We’ve got 2 ½ months left of regular-season ball. That’s where my focus is. That’s all back-burner stuff. You dream about that stuff in the future.
“There are so many things that can happen. You ignore it. You’ve got to bow your head about it. Any time you think about it, your focus is not on the hitter or the game. You just want to make it healthy to the end and get your opportunity then.”
Allen Webster, the 24-year-old right-hander who made seven starts for the Sox last season but has not received a summons yet this season, will make Sunday’s start for the Red Sox in place of Peavy, the team confirmed before Saturday's game with the Rays. Webster was scheduled to start for the PawSox on Saturday. Brandon Workman, who was 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in eight starts for the Sox, just pitched for Pawtucket on Thursday.
Workman has allowed just one run on eight hits in 11 innings over his last two starts, striking out 12 and walking three. He still looms as the most obvious choice to take Peavy’s spot in the Sox rotation.