Blue Jays take stock of Jon Lester rumors: 'I don't think there's a team out there that wouldn't like to have him'

July 29, 2014 - 3:33 pm
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Rumors have been flying over the past few days regarding Jon Lester'€™s future. While there are naturally a number of clubs vying for the services of Lester, two of the more interesting teams that have been connected to the Sox lefty are the Orioles and the Blue Jays, two of the Red Sox'€™ divisional rivals. Obviously, trading within the division is something that doesn't happen often. The last time the Red Sox struck a deal with an AL East rival was when they acquired current manager John Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter for infielder Mike Aviles prior to the 2013 season. But inter-divisional deals that occur during the season are even more rare. To find the last time the Red Sox pulled off a deal within the AL East in the middle of the summer, you'€™d have to go back to 2006, when they sent cash and a player to be named later to Baltimore for catcher Javy Lopez. They also acquired Eric Hinske from the Blue Jays for cash after the deadline that year. While no deal with the Blue Jays or any other team is imminent, the prospect of Lester pitching for the team that he'€™s competed against for so long is intriguing. "€œIt'€™d be strange,"€ Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus said of the idea of someone like Lester, who he'€™s faced often since being traded from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays in 2011. "But I'€™ve played for a little while now and I'€™ve had that happen before, it is kind of a weird thing, somebody who has dominated you and somebody that you compete heavily against, you have to form some sort of a hatred for that person to try to get out there every day and compete against them, as good as he is, but I'€™m sure we'€™d welcome him in with open arms and just hope that he helps us out."€ Nolan Reimold, who has spent his entire six-year career in the AL East between the Orioles and the Blue Jays (who claimed him off waivers from the Orioles earlier this month), offered similar sentiments about the concept of dealing within the division. "€œThat doesn't happen very often. ... I don'€™t know what the odds are that they do that, because normally teams don'€™t want to trade within the division, but who knows, we'€™ll wait and see," Reimold said. "I mean, once someone'€™s on your team, they'€™re your teammate. I haven'€™t faced him in quite some time, it'€™s been a little while but once he'€™s on your team he'€™s just one of the guys trying to help you reach your goal." While Jays slugger Jose Bautista wouldn'€™t comment directly on Lester'€™s situation given the amount of uncertainty and speculation that surrounds it, he spoke hypothetically of the idea of a deal of similar circumstances. "I'€™m not a GM, but if I ever were to become one and I trade within my division, I would be concerned with what I'€™m acquiring, not what I'€™m giving what I'€™m giving up," Bautista said. "There'€™s a reason why you'€™re making a trade in the first place so I'€™m just focused on that and ultimately feel and understand and believe that if I pull the trigger on it it'€™s because I feel like what I am getting is more beneficial to the organization than what I'€™m giving up." There was one thing everything could agree on, however. Division rival or not, any team would be happy to welcome Lester aboard. "He'€™d have the impact that he has on every team, I mean how he is with the Red Sox," Rasmus said when asked what Lester could bring to the club. "He'€™s a dominant pitcher, he'€™s as good as advertised, he'€™s a mule on the mound and can put a team on his back and give you that big first game start if you need it." "I'€™ve had plenty of those guys [who have come from rival teams] throughout my career, and if they'€™re quality players who you feel like could contribute and make a difference and be an integral part of the success of that organization moving forward, especially if you'€™re tied to that organization, it'€™s huge," Bautista said. "It'€™s great, it shows commitment from the management and ownership and a determination to win, which ultimately everybody wants, from the players all the way up to the ownership." While Lester'€™s future destination (or lack thereof) isn't clear, there'€™s one thing that is: He can be an asset to any competitive team. "œHe'€™s a top of the line starter, he'€™s had a lot of success,"€ Reimold said. "€œI don'€™t think there'€™s a team out there that wouldn'€™t like to have him. I think that speaks for itself."