Pirates Reportedly Could Get In On Jon Lester Talks

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that a couple of baseball executives think the Pirates could get in on the Jon Lester trade talks.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox are open to dealing Lester and John Lackey “for the right returns.”

The “for the right returns” part is probably a key, although it’s also kind of expected, since no team deals a player for the wrong return. Prior to Cafardo’s tweet, we haven’t really heard that the Pirates might be interested in Lester. They scouted his game the other night against the Rays, although that game also featured David Price, so the Pirates scouts could have just been focusing on one team. It’s also possible they were focused on both starters.

I estimated Lester’s trade value the other day, pointing out that he’d be worth $12.9 M in the current market. That would be a top 51-100 hitting prospect and a Grade C pitcher, or a 51-100 pitching prospect and a Grade B hitter. That doesn’t sound like much compared to the prices for other starters, but you’re also getting Lester for only two months.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I think a better question is what is fair for Lester from our perspective – why say no, when it could be reasonable? Would St. Louis win Lester by giving a decent package but not major pieces – how do we feel about it then??
If Lester could be had for Heredia and Lambo, would you do it? What about Sampson and Ramirez? What about Allie and Hanson? What if it was only one of any of these guys (all in the top 20 prospects and 3 in the top 10) and another player like Willie Garcia or Castro? To say no to a deal that makes sense, doesn’t make sense. So lets just wait and see how things play out – it may not take Glasnow and Bell to land a rental. After all look what Headley was had for.


I’m pretty sure the next “report” Cafardo gets right on the Bucs will be his first. He seems to always link the Pirates to the BoSox and it never materializes in season (melancon et. al. was during the off season).
That said, I’d love to see Lester chucking it for the Bucs, but the cost will probably be too much. Isn’t he the only true rental SP being talked about? Seems like all the others have an additional year on them, so it’ll be real interesting to see what the Sox get for 2 months of Lester.


The Cardinals do look like they are about ready to deal someone like Piscotty or Tavares for him sticky. Wacha will probably not be back this season.


why do you even need to scout these guys? you know what you’re getting

B Thomas

Hanson and Ramirez I would do it and I am not one for trading prospects.

Wilbert Matthews

Unthinkable in my view. Pirates cannot, or should not, in my view, be renters. We are by no means desperate for pitching. I would rather see us be sellers and sell high on volquez and lariano, trade Alvarez to the AL, and keep our core pitching as Morton, Cole, locke, Worley, and Cumpton. Now keeping a staff ace is another discussion. Price would be the guy, not Lester. We never get past St Louis without our own version of Wainright.

Ron Loreski

2 games back in the division, .5 game back for the wild card, and you want the Pirates to sell? Are you even a Pirate fan?


You forgot to mention that they are 7th, SEVENTH, in playoff percentage right now. However, I wouldn’t recommend looking like a seller either being only two games out of first place.


Last year our playoff odds were WAY lower than the Reds until the very end of the year. They use run differential a lot in there, and ours isn’t the greatest. But run differential doesn’t matter as much when you have a strong bullpen, because you’ll frequently win close games.

Ron Loreski

I didn’t forget to mention that, because playoff percentage DOES NOT matter. That’s a projection number that constantly changes. That stat holds no water.


Maybe in your little world.

tom from st pete florida

I agree. That playoff % calculator is one of the dumbest stats i see on a daily basis.

If the Giants go into a massive slump, what does that do to their %?.

Its all relative, you win, you keep gaining Momentum , and increase your chances.
You start to lost on a regular basis, and your % goes down dramatically.

I don’t need a hypothetical “predictor” to tell me that.


Tell that to the people who set the odds. Of course, future schedule difficulty and previous road performance means nothing,right boys ?

Ron Loreski

I don’t care about the odds makers. I care about the Pirates and getting to the playoffs. I highly doubt Neal Huntington is sitting in his office looking at the playoff % while trying to decide how to improve the team.


Gee Ron,and I’ll just bet you are the only one commenting here that wants the Pirates to succeed. What a guy you are,we should all be so sincere.

tom from st pete florida

what about future acquisitions and injuries?
How does that play into compiling this formula?

It’s a meaningless stat, that is my opinion, and i am sticking with it.

Previous road performance has nothing to do with future road performance, IMO.

When is the last time the Pirates won 2 games in a row on the road before last night?. What was the probability of that happening?

Stupid stat!


No, history NEVER gives any insight into what could happen in the near future, particularly in regards to sports performance.

Scott Kliesen

You just contradicted yourself, Wilbert. Jon Lester would be exactly the SP to go head-to-head w Wainwright or Kershaw.

Pirates aren’t selling! They’re in the thick of a pennant race, which means they work to bolster THIS team, not next year’s or the year after, or the year after, etc…


Fair price to pay for a world series title.


Do you think Lester guarantees a World Series title?

With the other two top starters as questions right now, and their offense randomly disappearing, I’m not sure this wins us the division. And losing in the WC game or missing the playoffs makes this a bad price. (This is assuming the Sox go for this price.)


This team is now 14 games over .500 in June and July, and 7-3 in our last 10 with ‘Cutch taking some time off with only 6 hits in the last 36 AB’s. Give me a couple more months of 14 games over .500 . . .please. No, this is not the time to start trying to think we need anything to win – not a SP, not a RP, and not a position player. The Chemistry of the Pirates won in 2013, and I do not want to try to get too smart about finding somebody who might be better than what we already have. Liriano is pitching well, Cole is on his way back, Morton is a solid #3 , Worley just threw a CG shutout and Locke has been consistently excellent all year. Who does Lester push out the door? No way we should even consider trading for a 2 month rental.


It’s no more of a calculated risk than holding onto prospects hoping they will pan out. Hold onto a prosect and you may get an mlb player, trade that prospect and you may get a world series. Which one makes more sense?


Nothing I have seen you put into a couple of threads makes one bit of sense.


How many teams every year for the last 50 years go out and trade for a rental, giving up their prospects and end up winning a world series. Very few. Rentals don’t actually improve a teams chances of winning the WS. Teams that win the WS are already good enough to win, any players they trade for are just icing on the cake. Those prospects that get traded away very well could have been the peices the team needed to become good enough to win the world series.
Funnily enough, those prospects that were traded away often do help that team become good. Now I’m not talking about average guys like Robbie Grossman or Blake Taylor, Nor am I talking about decent prospects like Dilson Hererra. The prospects it would take to get Lester would probably include Kingham and Harold Ramirez or Josh Bell, Pimentel and Adrian Sampson. While not all of those guys will make it to the show, a few have a good chance and very well could be players that make a good team even better.
Your calculated risk isn’t trading away a possible mlb player for a possible world series this year, it is trading away possible world series in the future over the course of multiple years for a very small chance for a world series this year. Your calculated risk is a road map on how to drive a small market team into the ground.

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