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Red Sox trade rumors: Orioles 'close' to acquiring Jon Lester

The Red Sox would get a pitcher back in the deal along with the likely prospect return.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

All indications this week were that Red Sox ace Jon Lester was going to be traded rather than extended before Thursday's trade deadline. It's not official, but according to the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham and's Brittany Ghiroli, the Red Sox and Orioles are close on a deal that will send Lester to Baltimore. Ghiroli reports that the major-league pitcher going back to Boston in the deal might be former Red Sox farmhand and current Orioles' rotation piece, Miguel Gonzalez.

The Orioles are within the same division as the Red Sox, making this a bit awkward, but with Lester a free agent at the end of the season, the Orioles not known for their lofty free agent spending, and the Red Sox out of the postseason mix, it's the kind of deal that won't blow up in Boston's face in that regard. The Orioles are the ones risking the ire of their fan base here, as whoever they send to the Red Sox could flourish while the Orioles could fail to win the World Series despite Lester's presence. As we discussed on Tuesday, though, since the Orioles haven't advanced past the LDS since the 90s, and their last World Series victory came before Lester was born, they are in a position to make an aggressive move like trading with a rival.

The Orioles have plenty of pitching prospects to send to the Red Sox, such as Kevin Gausman, 2013 first-round selection Hunter Harvey, or recovering Tommy John recipient -- but elite-level pitching prospect -- Dylan Bundy. Gausman is unlikely if the Sox are going to receive Gonzalez, but Bundy is not quite ready for the bigs again as he works his way back from surgery: the Orioles could send him as the center piece for someone of Lester's caliber without it being unfair for either side. He is unlikely to be the entire package -- none of these prospects would be -- but they would all fit as the major component.

It is worth pointing out that a few baseball writers on Twitter -- most notably the reliable Ken Rosenthal -- are suggesting that a deal is in the works but not necessarily is close. Jen Royle reports that a third team is getting involved because the Orioles won't part with the high-end prospects the Red Sox require for Lester. Either way, we'll keep you posted on the situation, the destination, and whatever return is reported.