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Lester scratched from possible last start with Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox are clearly sellers leading up to the MLB trade deadline on July 31. A year ago, both the Red Sox and ace Jon Lester were riding high towards another World Series title. Now with Boston in last place and fading, it's time for the soon-to-be former champions to start over again, which may start with trading Lester -- something made more obvious when he was scratched from his next start on July 30.

After the Red Sox lost 4-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 29, manager John Farrell revealed that Lester would be held from his scheduled start the next night, due to the "uncertainty" surrounding him. It doesn't automatically mean that a deal will be struck before July 31, but if it is, Lester's new team will be able to start him right away on full rest.

If Lester is moved, then his final start in a Red Sox uniform will have been a no-decision in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25. His final half-season with Boston would end with a 10-7 record, but with an ERA of 2.52. If he gets traded to a contender that can give him more run support, his win-loss record has a better chance of going up.

The latest team that has a chance to give him that shot is the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and Tim Brown. They alleged on July 29 that the Pirates are now a "dark horse" to strike a bargain with the Red Sox, although they would have to fend off the Los Angeles Dodgers. It wouldn't be the first time that a rebuilding Boston team made a trade with Los Angeles, after it sent away Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in 2012 -- which paid off for the Red Sox the following year.

Now that Boston is right back in the basement in 2014, it may be the team best capable of sending away an ace before the deadline. The Tampa Bay Rays have suddenly gotten too hot to trade David Price -- further burying the Red Sox in the process -- while the Philadelphia Phillies have too high a price for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. As such, Lester looks to be the biggest prize up for grabs before the deadline strikes.

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