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Rounding Third: Blockbusters dominate wild deadline day

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Well, so much for a slow deadline day.

The Oakland Athletics started the day with a blockbuster that seemingly would have been hard to top, as they picked up left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from Boston for slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

But then the Detroit Tigers responded with an even bigger deal just before the deadline, picking up lefty David Price from Tampa Bay as part of a three-team megadeal with the Seattle Mariners.

It breaks down like this. Price goes to the Tigers to join a rotation in Detroit that already includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer (more on him in a second), Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez, while Seattle gets Austin Jackson and the Rays obtain lefty Drew Smyly and shortstop Nick Franklin.

Wow.

Verlander said a few weeks ago that the A's made their Jeff Samardzija trade to matchup with the Tigers in the postseason. You have to think Detroit made this move to answer Oakland's deal of Lester.

Verlander-Lester, Scherzer-Gray, Price-Kazmir, Porcello-Samardzija.

The American League Championship Series can't get here soon enough.

This is certainly more than a rental, though, for the Tigers. Price is signed for next season. Plus Scherzer can become a free agent and already turned down $144 million from the Tigers.

It's a no-brainer of a deal for Detroit. Price gives them three Cy Young winners in its rotation. But couldn't the Rays have gotten a little more than a middle-of-the-rotation starter in Smyly, a shortstop who has hit .214 at the big league level and another shortstop at the Single-A level?

Regardless it looks like its a two-team race in the AL now.

Like Price, we all knew Lester was being shopped, but if you thought Oakland would be the team doing the buying, you were in the minority. Especially after the A's had already seemingly addressed the rotation with the acquisitions of both Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.

We said back on July 5 that the Samardzija deal made them the favorites to win the American League West. This Lester trade gives them as good of a chance to win the whole thing.

And if you don't think the A's made this move with an eye toward October consider this, Lester has won all three of his World Series starts and has pitched to a 0.43 ERA in those games.

Yes, the A's lose a big part of the lineup in Cespedes, but his myth certainly exceeded his actual production. He may hit a lot of long home runs, but if you are an advanced statistics guy - which we all know Billy Beane is - you know he's nowhere near the best bat in that lineup.

Perhaps I am underestimating his impact, but I am guessing they won't even notice he's gone. Put it this was way, adding a legitimate ace, more than outweighs whatever Cespedes brings to the table.

Cespedes will be missed more in the outfield than he will be in the lineup.

Pitching, though, hasn't been the A's problem the past few postseasons. It's been a lineup that wasn't able to solve Verlander or Scherzer. But, as little as I may think of Cespedes, he certainly can't be blamed for Oakland's failure to hit in October.

Cespedes hit safely in all 10 of Oakland's postseason games over the last two years, batting .350 (14-for-40) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, and six RBI.

How will that lineup fare now potentially having to face Price as well.

Either way, it certainly feels like a long time ago that Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin were lost for the season for the A's, doesn't it?

If anything, this deal distances the A's from the Los Angeles Angels in the division. There is a good chance Seattle is sitting there with the second wild card when it is all said and done.

Jackson is as good a leadoff hitter as there is in the game and will help what is a putrid offense.

You think any team, regardless of who it is, wants to take their chances in a one-game playoff against Felix Hernandez?

Anything can happen in one game. It is so much more important to win a division nowadays.

Give credit to Beane. He knows as well as anyone the window to win is very small. This is his chance and he went all in. Now the A's have to go win. No more excuses. It's easy to say you couldn't get over the hump because they were a small market team, but adding Samardzija and Lester are not small market moves.

It makes sense for the Red Sox, too. Cespedes could really do some damage to that Green Monster. Now, due to some funky language in his contract, he could become a free agent after next season, but they'll get a full year to gauge if he is a fit in Boston.

And having David Ortiz in his ear won't hurt, either.

And who's to say that Lester just doesn't re-up with the Red Sox this winter. Now that's probably an extreme longshot, given the fact that his price tag goes up even further since the A's can't offer him arbitration, meaning a team will not have to give up a pick to sign him.

Stranger things have happened, though.

By the way, am I the only one who can't figure out why that doesn't happen more often? Who's to say Ben Cherington didn't go to Lester and say, "Look we are not going anywhere this year, but we want you to be a Red Sox for life. How about we deal you for something now, then work something out this winter?"

Speaking of Cherington, he also hit it out of the park on Thursday. Not only did he get Cespedes, but he also added righty Joe Kelly and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig from St. Louis for righty John Lackey. Plus he traded lefty reliever Andrew Miller to Baltimore for its third-best prospect in left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

That's called rebuilding on the fly. The Philadelphia Phillies should take notice.

Those deals kind of got lost in the shuffle on a busy deadline day, but not bad returns at all for Boston. And that's not even including the two prospects they got from San Francisco in the Jake Peavy deal.

This non-waiver deadline is silly, though. The real deadline is Aug. 31.

Players can, and still will be moved, in the coming month. Before the second wild card teams pretty much knew what their fate was on this day. With the extra team, though, a heck of a lot of clubs are still involved.

So, don't be surprised if the Phillies still Cliff Lee still gets moved in the next month.

HOW WAIVER DEALS WORK

We mentioned waiver wire deals earlier. Here's how they work. Any player can be put on waivers by his team, and the player does not need to be informed.

Teams can place seven players per day on the wire.

Other teams then have the chance to make a claim on the player during a 47 hour window. If the player is not claimed, he has cleared waivers and can be traded to any team.

If the player is claimed, the team that placed him on waivers has the option of pulling him back. If the team pulls him back, though, they can't trade him for 30 days.

If his team decides not to pull him back there are a few options:

Option 1: His team can work out a trade with the team that claimed him within a 48-1/2 hour (business day) window. However, any player involved in the trade who is on a 40 man roster must go through waivers first.

Option 2: His team can just dump him and his salary on the team that claimed him, getting no player in return.

Option 3: No one claims him, and his team is free to trade him to any team.

If more than one team places a claim on a player, the winning claim is awarded based on worst record or the league the claiming team is in.

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