Jon Lester remains on track to start Wednesday, but Red Sox making backup plans in case of trade

July 29, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Breaking: The Red Sox are playing on Tuesday. But that immediate engagement represented an afterthought when John Farrell met with the media prior to his team's game against the Blue Jays. With Boston sitting 11 games back in the AL East division standings and the July 31 trade deadline drawing closer and closer, the focus on the team in recent days has not been a matter of determining the chances of a miraculous playoff run in the final two months of the season. Rather, it has all been about ace Jon Lester, who could see his almost 12-year career with the Red Sox organization come to a close in a matter of days, perhaps even as soon as Wednesday. Lester is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday. That remains the case even with rumors swirling around him. But the rumors have enough substance that the Red Sox have already announced an alternative should Lester be dealt in the next 24 hours.

"As of right now, [Lester is] scheduled to start [Wednesday] night," said Farrell. "We have a contingency plan. If Jon is traded by this time tomorrow Brandon Workman will start."

While the chances of Lester remaining as a member of the team becomes an increasingly slim scenario as the hours pass, Farrell said that he remains optimistic that Lester will remain in the Sox rotation by the time the deadline passes. "Someone asked me a question earlier about having experienced a lot of successes, a lot of challenges and my only response is that I hope there are many more to experience with [Lester]," Farrell said. "The reality of the game is what we'€™re living right now and certain individual cases, but I'€™m always optimistic and hopeful that he'€™ll remain in a Red Sox uniform." Lester has put together his best season as a pro during his final year under contract with Boston, posting career highs in ERA (2.52), WHIP (1.12) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.66) in 2014. The potential of adding a pitcher with the pedigree of Lester to any rotation has made the Sox southpaw a hot commodity as the trade deadline draws closer and closer, with teams such as the Dodgers, Mariners, Brewers and even AL East foes such as the Orioles and Blue Jays linked to Lester. While any trade involving Lester has the potential to yield a significant haul back to the Red Sox, yet questions about how the Red Sox would go about replacing a top-of-the-rotation left-hander. So how does the team get better going forward by trading Lester? On that subject, Farrell did not attempt an answer. "€œThat'€™s probably a question better answered by [Red Sox GM] Ben [Cherington], because no one knows what the return of any player, if they'€™re traded, is going to bring," Farrell said. "€œBut our goal is to be as good as we can, as quick as we can, and that'€™s not saying that we close the book on 2014, so to specifically answer that question, it remains to be seen who gets traded and for what."