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Flurry of trades leaves Red Sox in state of uncertainty

Céspedes brings a powerful bat to Fenway Park...until he becomes a free agent after 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

If you weren’t sure how to react to the four trades made by the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, you certainly weren’t alone. Across social media and sports talk radio, opinions ranged from high praise for the acquisition of Cuban slugger Yoenis Céspedes to outrage over the lack of a long-term return for ace Jon Lester.

To recap the crazy day, the drama started with a blockbuster deal that sent both Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland in exchange for Céspedes. Then, the Sox agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals that traded John Lackey for outfielder Allen Craig and starting pitcher Joe Kelly. Finally, the team agreed to two smaller trades within the American League East, one which sent Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for a pitching prospect, and the other — a rare swap with the New York Yankees that put Stephen Drew in pinstripes for Kelly Johnson.

Here’s a breakdown of the three key players acquired by the Red Sox, including their ages.

OF Yoenis Céspedes (28), right-handed power bat, great throwing arm, free agent after 2015
OF Allen Craig (30), right-handed, injury plagued, under team control through 2018
SP Joe Kelly (26), right-handed starter, 4.37 ERA in 35.0 IP this season, under team control through 2018

The Lackey trade may have been the best deal of the four by the Red Sox. They’ve added two major league caliber players who can contribute immediately while staying under team control through the 2018 season. Craig is owed $38.5 million over the next four years, including a club option for $13 million in 2018. If he stays healthy, Craig could be one of the best all-around players for the Red Sox in that time.

Kelly is a necessary addition to the rotation, since the Red Sox have now parted ways with Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Jon Lester. However, his age and success last season opens the door for a promising future in Boston if he begins to turn around his numbers this season.

The real question though is the lack of a return for Jon Lester. The Sox were supposed to have teams making pitches all day for their homegrown left-handed ace, and with hours remaining before the deadline, they settled for acquiring an outfielder who isn’t guaranteed to stay in Boston beyond next season. In fact, without an ace lined up for next season, it may be more realistic to begin planning for a 2015 trade deadline move that sends Céspedes to a contender.

Who is the opening day starter for the Red Sox next year? How does the outfield line up for the rest of this season, with Shane Victorino, Yoenis Céspedes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp all on the roster? Does the team maximize on Céspedes’ throwing ability by playing him in right field and limit Victorino’s range by putting him in left? Can this team contend in 2015? Is Jon Lester coming back in free agency? There are more questions created by these deadline deals than answers, and the Sox now have two months to explore all of the possibilities before they set the 2015 roster.

What do you think of these trades by the Red Sox?

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