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MLB Trade Deadline: Jon Lester to the Orioles or Blue Jays is the trade for Rays fans to root against

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Inter-division trades are only bad for the rest of the division.

Rich Schultz

Jon Lester was scratched from his start today, in anticipation of a possible move at the trade deadline. Most of the chatter is about the Dodgers, the Cardinals, and the Pirates, but are two other teams allegedly in the mix that Rays fans should be rooting against in this market.

Come on, National League. Outbid the Orioles and the Blue Jays.

Trading Within The Division

Deadline deals are all about transferring current wins to the teams who need them. When a team that's fallen out of contention sends its ace off, it's forfeiting wins this season. In return, it gets prospects, who it believes will contribute wins in future seasons, when they hope to contend.

The real losers in a Boston-Baltimore or Boston-Toronto trade are the Rays.

There's a stigma against trading within the division, but that really doesn't make much sense. From the standpoint of the Orioles, for instance, trading for Jon Lester does double duty. On the one hand, they get to have Jon Lester right now, and he's a good pitcher who can help them win. On the other hand, they don't have to face Lester when they play the Red Sox, increasing their odds of winning those games as well.

Now think about this deal from the point of view of Boston. If they take Orioles prospects in a trade, they're decreasing Baltimore's ability to compete several years down the road, precisely at the time that the Red Sox believe they will once more be competitive.

The inter-division trade does good work for both sides.

The real losers in a Boston-Baltimore or Boston-Toronto trade are the Rays. Both sides of the trade hurt their chances. Right now, Baltimore or Toronto would become stronger, and the Rays would continue to face Jon Lester in inter-division games. On the other hand, the prospects that it took to acquire Lester stay within the division, and the Rays will still need to face them down the road. There would be no talent drain with the American League East.

So right now, Ned Colletti just might be Rays' fans best friend, and not because he's about to send us Joc Pederson for David Price.