The Red Sox keep saying they aren't absolutely going to trade outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but word of discussions they're having with other teams about him tell us it's only a matter of time. For instance, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi is reporting that the Red Sox have discussed sending Cespedes to the Cincinnati Reds, but there hasn't been any progress recently.
While the lack of recent progress merits attention, so does the fact there are reports of the two sides talking at all. To this point, there have only been denials about discussions for what seemed like a logical fit for both sides: the Reds need hitting, and the Red Sox need pitching. The Red Sox have Cespedes to offer up, while the Reds could move one of a number of pitchers. All three of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake are free agents following the 2015 season, and the Reds don't have the budget to retain all three nor the offense to support them all in 2015, either.
Red Sox make offer to Justin Masterson
The Red Sox are still waiting on a decision from Jon Lester, but that hasn't stopped them from making an offer to Justin Masterson.
Now, that doesn't mean the Sox are going to get Cueto for Cespedes. Cueto only costs $10 million for 2015, and is far and away the best of the three, as well as one of the most underrated pitchers in the game. If the Sox bring Cueto back in a trade, it's because they also shipped some prospects to Cincinnati along with Cespedes. Good ones, too. Latos is more viable, as he's probably out of the Reds' price range by this time next year and wouldn't require as much of a return as Cueto, while Leake is the worst of the three, but also the one the Reds have the best shot at re-signing simply from a monetary standpoint.
Progress also could have stalled temporarily for a few reasons, not all of them necessarily signaling the end of discussions. The Red Sox are waiting for the Jon Lester situation to shake out before making a move for a pitcher, because the quality of pitcher they want to get back in a deal centered around Cespedes could change depending on whether Lester has returned or not. The Reds might be trying to figure out which of these three they have the best shot at retaining, or if there are other moves that justify them dealing a win-now player for a win-now player, rather than for the purposes of rebuilding. The Sox and Reds might have simply reached a point where they agreed discussions could be returned to at the appropriate time, and in the meantime, both are exploring other avenues with their assets.
Whatever the reason, we'll probably find out more soon, once Lester has signed on somewhere and the Sox shift to either part two of Plan A or part one of Plan B. What we do know is that the more teams there are intrigued by Cespedes, the better for Boston.