|Home Run Derby champ Yoenis Cespedes (MCT)|
In the seventh inning of a tight game at Comerica Park ― with the bases loaded, no less ― Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson suddenly trotted from his position to the dugout.
He was on his way out of town, too, in a blockbuster, three-team swap that brought former Cy Young winner David Price to the AL Central-leading Tigers.
|Former Cy Young-winner David Price (MCT)|
A whopping 18 teams began the day within five games of playoff position, resulting in a dozen deals shortly before Major League Baseball’s 4 p.m. EDT trade deadline.
The World Series champion Boston Red Sox, mired in last place, were the most busy. They sent Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to AL West-leading Oakland for Cespedes, traded Lackey to St. Louis, dealt shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees and moved pitcher Andrew Miller to Baltimore.
The Miami Marlins, often sellers as deadline day approaches, became buyers when they acquired pitcher Jarred Cosart from Houston in a six-player trade.
Teams can still make trades through Aug. 31 to have players eligible for the postseason, but it becomes more tricky. Now a player must first clear waivers, meaning every club in the majors has a chance to claim him before he can be traded.
All the action off the field Thursday made for great fun for fans, plus some heated up pennant races.
A look at the deals, and what they meant: A year after winning their third crown in a decade, Boston bailed out. The Red Sox picked Oakland as the landing spot for the coveted Lester, then paired up with the team they beat in the World Series last October to swap Lackey for Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig.
“It speaks to where we are as a team,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “There’s nothing sort of celebratory about this. These moves are made because, collectively as an organization, we haven’t performed well enough, in this year anyway.”
Looking for its first World Series title since 1989, Oakland kept dealing. After getting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in July, the team with the best record in the majors added Lester and outfielders Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld.
The Athletics had one leftover issue: They were set to give away 10,000 T-shirts at Saturday’s game that honored Cespedes, and they plan to hand them out.
A lot of teams wanted the 28-year-old lefty ace, who now joins fellow Cy Young winners Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in Motown. In the three-team deal, Jackson went to Seattle while pitcher Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames joined Tampa Bay.