BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox traded ace pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics not with an eye to the distant future, but to next season, acquiring slugger Yoenis Cespedes.
The Red Sox also will also get Oakland's competitive balance draft pick while the Athletics received cash considerations in the trade, which bolsters Boston's historically weak outfield defense.
The deal, which took place hours before baseball's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline Thursday, marks the end of Lester's storied stint with the Red Sox, who won two World Series championships with the left-hander in their rotation.
Lester, who is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, had publicly stated his desire to remain with the Red Sox. But contract negotiations stalled this past offseason, when Lester reportedly turned down Boston's four-year, $70 million offer.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, a teammate of Lester's since 2006, tweeted farewell to the ace pitcher on Thursday morning.
Wishing my man Jon Lester all the best, Red Sox Nation and the Large Father will miss you! pic.twitter.com/7uWpXw8XnH- David Ortiz (@davidortiz) July 31, 2014
Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who has been the featured subject of a best-selling book and hit movie but has never taken a team to the World Series, left little doubt he is all-in for October by making his second blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher in less than a month.
Beane surrendered his top two prospects to the Chicago Cubs on July 5 in a trade for All-Star Jeff Samardzija and veteran right-hander Jason Hammel. In Lester, Oakland is adding a pitcher with a glittering postseason resume, including a 0.43 career ERA in the World Series.
Beane followed up the Lester deal Thursday morning by trading left-hander Tommy Milone to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Sam Fuld. Oakland has a 66-41 record, the best in the American League, but leads the second-place Los Angeles Angels by just 2 ½ games in the AL West.
Lester will join a star-studded Athletics rotation that already includes Samardzija, All-Star Scott Kazmir, promising youngster Sonny Gray, Hammel and Jesse Chavez. Hammel, who has struggled badly since joining Oakland, could be in danger of losing his rotation spot with the arrival of Lester.
The Red Sox had been seeking what one industry source termed "a king's ransom" in prospects for Lester from other potential trading partners, which included the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.
But when those potential suitors were unable to satisfy their demands, the Red Sox changed course with Oakland and acquired a proven major leaguer in Cespedes, the two-time reigning Home Run Derby champion.