Price goes to Detroit, Lester to Oakland at deadline
The Athletics made Thursday's big early move, sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Lester, a 30-year-old lefthander, to bolster a starting rotation that has helped Oakland to a 66-41 record - best in the major leagues.
The Tigers landed Price, 28, from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade involving the Seattle Mariners. The deal gives Detroit, which leads the American League Central Division with a 58-47 record, the last three Cy Young Award winners in the AL (Justin Verlander in 2011, Max Scherzer in 2013).
"Wow . . . what a day!!" Price wrote on his Twitter account. "Rays fans THANK YOU!! Great Chapter of my life just ended . . . ready to start a new one with the Tigers!!"
Nine months after winning the World Series, the last-place Red Sox turned into sellers at baseball's non-waiver trade deadline. In addition to dealing Lester and Lackey, they sent relief pitcher Andrew Miller to AL East-leading Baltimore for a minor-league prospect and shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees for infielder Kelly Johnson and cash.
It was the first trade between the division rivals since Sept. 29, 1997, when the Red Sox sent Mike Stanley to the Yankees for Tony Armas and Jim Mecir. The Yankees, who are in third place in the AL East with a 55-52 record, also acquired veteran infielder Martin Prado from Arizona for minor-league catcher Peter O'Brien.
"I think everybody dreams to play for the Yankees," said Prado, who spent seven seasons with Atlanta and two with the Diamondbacks.
In other moves, Washington acquired shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from Cleveland, Houston dealt pitcher Jared Cosart to Miami, Atlanta got infielder Emilio Bonifacio and lefthander James Russell from the Chicago Cubs, the A's sent pitcher Tommy Milone to Minnesota to re-acquire outfielder Sam Fuld, Milwaukee got outfielder Gerardo Parra from Arizona, and Seattle picked up outfielder Chris Denorfia from San Diego.
Price, the AL Cy Young winner in 2012, has an 11-8 record this season with a 3.11 earned run average and a major-league-best 189 strikeouts in 1702/3 innings.
"We looked at what would give us the best chance to win the World Series and to first get there," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
The Rays, in fourth place in the five-team AL East, received pitcher Drew Smyly from Detroit and infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle in the deal, while the Mariners got outfielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers.
Lester, who is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, moves into an Oakland starting rotation that includes Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija, and Jason Hammel. The A's starters have the fourth-best collective ERA in the majors at 3.32.
The Athletics got outfielder Jonny Gomes in addition to Lester, who had a 110-63 record with a 3.64 ERA over nine seasons in Boston. He was 6-4 in the playoffs, including a 3-0 mark with a 0.43 ERA in the World Series.
Lester and Price will become free agents after the season, so their new teams may have them for only the last two months of the regular season and potentially the postseason.