Even so, it’s a heck of a chip — if the Royals choose to use it. Wil Myers was the consensus minor-league player of the year and is already drawing heavy interest from numerous clubs.
While the Royals are reluctant to deal him, it appears doing so could net either Shields or Lester, each of whom was an All-Star as recently as 2011. The problem: Both are expensive and on track to become free agents in two years.
Both deals have been discussed, but neither appears close at the moment. Other players could be involved, but the basic framework would be Myers for one of the two pitchers. At this point, all sides — the Royals, Rays and Red Sox — remain hesitant.
Still … is either worth considering from the Royals’ perspective? In effect, are two years of Shields or Lester worth six years of Myers?
Isn't hot stove season the best?
This report out of Kansas City says the Red Sox have talked to the Royals about a possible deal involving Jon Lester and Wil Myers, arguably the best offensive prospect in the minors now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have graduated to the bigs.
The way to consider such a move -- which Pete Abraham dismisses as "nothing happening" -- defines what your rebuilding strategy is. Are you the type that wants an immediate turnaround? Do you want a Josh Hamilton deal, a Cody Ross deal, a trade of prospects for another pitcher, and a slew of Gomes-like free agent signings to round out the team?
Or are you willing to sit through a year or two of pain for potential -- and that's all it is, mind you -- contention once the next round of prospects is big-league ready?
Both options have their pros and cons. I find myself leaning more toward the second group, so I would support such a deal, were it an option. By most accounts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Will Middlebrooks should be at least good players by 2014. Add to that the potential of a Ryan Kalish, Bryce Brentz, Ryan Lavarnway, or Jose Iglesias breakout, in addition to Dustin Pedroia and whatever ancillary moves the Sox make, and you could be looking at a strong, contract-controlled core. Adding the top offensive prospect to that is, obviously, tantalizing. But the team could be quite bad this year and maybe next on their way to this core maturing.
But trying to keep as many good big-league players around now means winning more games, keeping fans happy, and maybe turning around the mindset in the clubhouse. We've seen what a sour clubhouse can mean in Boston, so maybe punting a year or two would only reinforce a loser mentality.
Of course, in two years Jon Lester shouldn't exactly be Jamie Moyer. He'll be 29 going into next year, albeit coming off a down year causing many to question his value. I believe he can return to what he was -- not an ace, but a very good pitcher who can be a big part of a championship team.
Which makes it difficult to trade him for potential. Remember Lester's backstory -- John Farrell reportedly said he would stake his professional reputation on Lester becoming a great pitcher back when the Red Sox nearly included him in an Alex Rodriguez trade with Texas. Now Farrell's back in town, and we all know how fashionable it is to say he'll be able to return Lester to glory.
As you can see, I believe there are arguments on both sides. I also believe most of this is futile, because I think Abraham is the best Sox reporter around and believe him that nothing will happen. But it does get to the core of what you want the Sox to do, and what direction you want them to pursue.
(Now watch Tampa trade Shields for Myers and finally have the big bat they've needed. Beware.)
Herald | Report: Red Sox hear offers for Jon Lester | Moved-in Safeco fences part of Mariners' pitch to Mike Napoli | Globe | Mike Napoli will next meet with Texas | CSNNE | McAdam: No sense in Sox rushing to action over offseason | ESPNBoston | Source: Mike Napoli, Rangers to talk | Image: Curtis Kitchen