BOSTON — Despite their need for another quality starting pitcher, the Boston Red Sox may be keeping the door open to dealing away their best starter, left-hander Jon Lester.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star, the Red Sox are one of the teams that have discussed a deal with the Royals for their outfield prospect, Wil Myers.
Myers, 21, is arguably the top position prospect in baseball.
In a 2012 season split between Triple-A and Double-A, Myers hit 37 home runs with 109 RBI, batted .314 with a .387 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage.
The Royals, according to the report, also have spoken with the Rays about a similar deal involving starter James Shields.
The Red Sox did not comment.
No deal is close, and there are no indications if the talks are ongoing or even progressed beyond initial contact.
The Royals may prove reluctant to pull the trigger. The Red Sox may want to wait and explore options after free-agent starter Zack Greinke signs, then decide if they can deal Lester.
The Royals have promising everyday players, including first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas. But General Manager Dayton Moore probably prefers to trade talent from their minor leagues and be competitive immediately.
Myers, who turns 22 on Dec. 10, batted .314 last season in 134 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, with 37 homers and 109 RBI, but also 140 strikeouts.
Lester, a 28-year-old left-hander, slumped badly last year in going 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 33 starts after posting a combined 65-32 record and a 3.33 ERA in his four previous seasons. That includes a no-hitter against the Royals in May 2008 at Boston.
He will make $11.625 million next season in completing a five-year, $30 million deal that includes a $13 million club option in 2014.
Lester can void the option and become a free agent if he finishes first or second in the Cy Young voting.
Shields is a right-hander who turns 32 on Dec. 20 and is coming off a 15-10 season with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts for the Rays.
He is 81-65 with a 3.80 ERA over the last six years and will make $9 million next season with a $12 million club option for 2014.
NOTES: According to Fox-Sports. com, Craig Counsell took himself out of consideration for the Boston hitting coach job. The other candidates are Victor Rodriguez, Rick Schu, Scott Fletcher and Greg Colbrunn.
One of Boston’s top outfield prospects, Bryce Brentz, was named to the Arizona Fall League top prospects team as the designated hitter. Brentz hit .297 and had an on-base percentage of .366, slugging .438 (.804 OPS) with two home runs and 11 RBI in 17 games.
Brentz also was named to the league’s rising stars team earlier this month. His production in Arizona came close to matching the rate of his stats during 122 games with the Portland Sea Dogs and five games with Triple-A Pawtucket last summer. He hit .290 with a .349 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage (.814 OPS).
Gerald Perry, hitting coach with Pawtucket last season, will be the hitting coach for Team USA in next spring’s World Baseball Classic. Joe Torre is the manager.
Infielder Ivan De Jesus, part of the multiplayer deal with the Dodgers in August, was assigned to Pawtucket after clearing waivers. De Jesus was designated for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster.