We're barely an hour past the trade deadline, and already focus is shifting to the offseason, where Gordon Edes (doubtfully) relates this piece of gossip: the Red Sox are planning to make a big offseason push to re-sign Jon Lester.
I'm having a tough time believing this, but I'm told Red Sox plan to make huge effort to re-sign Lester— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 31, 2014
Take that for what you will. Gordon himself certainly isn't convinced, and he's the one who knows the source and trusts them enough to pass along the information. But...well, it wouldn't not make sense in a weird evil mastermind sort of way.
Consider the situation: the Red Sox are headed into an offseason where good hitting is in short supply. Especially lacking are outfielders, where the Red Sox could really use some power. What they do have is two good months of Jon Lester that they won't be using no matter what, and a whole lot of money to spend come the winter. So what do you do?
You flip Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes, then put all that money that had no good offensive outlet in free agency into the very pitcher you let loose, since the Athletics aren't about to pay him the massive amounts it will take to keep him in Oakland. In the end you have the bat you were looking for and the arm you wanted to keep anyway.
The Red Sox were never going to be getting much out of Jon Lester's exclusive negotiation rights. What incentive is there for a player to sign in that period for anything less than a market-destroying bid? Loyalty? Just wait out the period and then sign anyway once you know what the top dollar you're giving up actually is. Losing the qualifying offer advantage is something, but not a major thing given the size of the contract likely to be involved.
Does that mean this is likely? No, I expect Jon Lester will not be a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2015. But it's neither nonsensical nor implausible.