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Jon Lester Rumors
A look at the AL East..
- The Orioles had preliminary discussions on a deal with the Pirates that would send Travis Snider to Baltimore for Brian Matusz, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress at the moment, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wishes he was given more opportunities to negotiate with Jon Lester in the spring, writes Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican. Still, he says that he does not have any regrets about his bidding this winter.
- The Blue Jays will look at short-term free agent options – meaning deals of 1-3 years in length – at second base, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Alternatively, GM Alex Anthopoulos could stay put and spend on relief instead.
We already took a look at one round of reactions to Jon Lester‘s deal with the Cubs, but the big lefty’s much-anticipated decision has drawn plenty of thoughts from around the game. Here are some more:
- Cubs manager Joe Maddon found it impossible to hide his excitement for the still-unannounced addition of Lester, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. The reason is clear, says Stark: the move steps up the organization’s image and its timetable for competing.
- Don’t expect the Cubs to push for contention next year, cautions Rob Neyer of FOX Sports, who writes that the real target probably still remains 2016 and beyond.
- With the Lester signing, the Cubs are officially ready to try and go to the playoffs, opines Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. Sullivan, who feels that the Cubs are a good fit for Lester, looks at how the rest of the offseason might play out now that the left-hander is off the market.
- The Red Sox simply “blew it” with regard to Lester, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines in an Insider piece.
- As the Red Sox look to alternatives, Alex Speier of WEEI.com breaks down the top replacement options for Lester.
- Adding Lester is huge for the Cubs, but they’re at least one more good starter away from contention, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Brandon McCarthy would be a good fit, Law suggests, or they could trade young hitting for another starter. Even if the Cubs’ core of young hitting needs another year to develop before the team can contend, though, Lester figures to age well and should still be pitching at a high level in 2016.
- The Lester deal gives the Cubs more credibility, new manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that [clubhouse],” Maddon said. “I’ll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it. … Having people like that in the room definitely helps other guys believe this is possible.”
- The deal is an awkward one for the Red Sox, tweets Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. They could have offered Lester far less last spring than their losing bid this time around, and he would have accepted.
- The Red Sox still have to upgrade their rotation, and their missing out on Lester by $20MM is a bad sign, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes writes. It will be hard, Edes writes, for the Red Sox to have a rotation without Lester as good as the one they could have had if they had signed him.
- Lester becoming a Cub shifts the balance of power in the NL Central, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman wonders (via Twitter) if it will be what causes the Reds to begin rebuilding.
- On a related note, Lester’s contract sets the standard for extension talks between the Reds and Johnny Cueto, who is eligible for free agency after 2015, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Rosecrans also notes that, with Lester heading to Chicago, the Red Sox figure to be clearly in the market for starting pitching, and there might be a match between the Red Sox and Reds, who could offer Mat Latos or Mike Leake.
9:10pm: The Dodgers aren’t in on Lester, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times tweets. It indeed seems that the Cubs and Red Sox are the two finalists for Lester’s services.
8:36pm: Lester is still finalizing his choice between the Cubs and Red Sox, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
8:21pm: The Giants were called by Lester earlier tonight to inform them that he was signing elsewhere, assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group). As Evans put it, “We did not receive a rose.”
7:36pm: CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan hears from “two very good MLB sources” who believe the Cubs are the leading contenders to sign Lester. An executive connected to at least one of the teams in the hunt, however, tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) that he thinks Lester is leaning towards San Francisco.
5:31pm: The Lester sweepstakes “is nearing [the] finish line” and there is a “reasonable belief” that Lester could pick his new team by tonight, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. Olney adds that Lester will soon be presented with his final offers from teams, though WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports that Lester’s agents are not quite ready to present those final offers to their client. There’s “still a strong possibility” that Lester make his decision until Wednesday, Bradford writes.
4:41pm: Giants GM Brian Sabean thinks his team is still “very much in” the hunt for Lester, The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets.
2:58pm: Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans says that he has been led to believe that lefty Jon Lester is leaning toward signing with another club, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports (links to Twitter). San Francisco is “in the back seat” in negotiations at present, Evans said.
Lester has told the Giants that he is not going to simply take the highest bid, as has previously been reported. Evans left Bowden with the impression that San Francisco believes the starter is drawn to joining the Cubs or Red Sox.
Various reports have suggested that Lester’s decision would continue to be delayed as the teams involved — up to and including their owners — make a final push to land him. With the bidding said to be at or even above the $150MM level, Lester will surely feel comfortable that he has earned a market-value deal regardless of where he ends up.
The Yankees lost a homegrown star in David Robertson yesterday and they’re also losing ground in the American League with the talent that’s flowing in, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. There have been 14 free agents to sign for $10MM or more in total, and just two of those deals were with National League teams with zero migrations from the AL to the NL. At this moment, all five AL East teams probably feel they can win the division and the wild card competition also figures to be fierce for the Bombers in 2015. More out of the AL East..
- A big part of the Yankees‘ decision to not make an offer to David Robertson was the value they put on the compensatory draft pick they would receive, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (via Twitter). The closer agreed to join the White Sox on a four-year, $46MM deal late last night.
- The Red Sox and Reds have discussed deal that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Cincinnati, but there’s been no recent progress on that front, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- The Red Sox and Phillies have discussed a swap of Antonio Bastardo for Sean Coyle this offseason, a major league source with knowledge of the situation tells Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter). It’s unclear if those talks are still progressing at this time, however.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters yesterday that he’s confident that Boston can sign Jon Lester, but not everyone agrees. “I don’t see how the Red Sox get this done,” an official of one club who has been monitoring Lester closely told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
- The Giants are not interested in going to four years for Headley, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. With some uncertainty still surrounding the level of demand for Headley, Heyman suggests the Yankees could be increasingly well-positioned to bring him back.
- There is “optimism” that Headley will sign a deal today, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. On the other hand, Jon Lester‘s negotiations remain a “yellow light factor” for Headley’s own market, says Gammons.
- Headley may not necessarily be the key to the Giants‘ fallback plans if they miss on Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. San Francisco also has some trade talks ongoing. We heard yesterday that Jed Lowrie could be a free agent alternative to Headley at the hot corner.
The Red Sox are mired in “a mess of their own making” after “lowballing” Jon Lester last spring, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. That reported $70MM offer (which the team later characterized as merely a starting point) got negotiations off on the wrong foot, and the team wound up dealing Lester to Oakland in July. Of course, the Red Sox could still end up signing Lester, and if they don’t, there are alternatives, like Cole Hamels or Max Scherzer. But if they don’t, Silverman writes, their decisions last spring will remain in question. Here are more quick notes from around the Majors.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the rumors surrounding club president and CEO Paul Beeston have had no impact on him, writes MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “Honestly I haven’t thought about it at all today, and I’m being dead serious,” says Anthopoulos. “No one has brought it up to me, nobody. This is the first time I’ve talked about it today. I just don’t get caught up in it.” Anthopoulos claimed Chris Colabello from the Twins on Monday, and also reportedly pursued a trade for Royals closer Greg Holland.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says catcher Wilin Rosario has mostly attracted interest from AL clubs, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. Rosario is better offensively than defensively, and AL clubs could use him at DH. The Rangers are one possible fit, Harding suggests. A report last week indicated that the Rockies were interested in trying to trade Rosario, who is projected to receive a raise to $3.6MM in 2015 through the arbitration process. Harding writes that the Rockies would look for another catcher if they traded Rosario.
TUESDAY, 3:37am: The Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Red Sox have all made offers to Lester of around six years and $150MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. One unknown team is willing to go to seven years and around $175MM, but Rosenthal suggests (as Jon Heyman also did earlier this morning) that might not matter, because Lester might simply choose the team he prefers, regardless of the financial specifics.
1:44am: Lester’s limbo could continue until Wednesday, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets. Team owners are now involved in the process and are slowing it down.
1:21am: Lester has six- and seven-year offers in hand, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It’s possible, however, that Lester won’t take the biggest-money offer. Heyman tweets that Lester’s deal is expected to wind up being somewhere from $150MM to $175MM.
MONDAY 11:54pm: Lester will not make his decision tonight, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
8:44pm: Giants GM Brian Sabean hasn’t been told when a decision is coming, but he believes that Lester will make his call soon, tweets Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News.
Sabean says that Lester is the only player that he’s currently engaged in, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). He also says there are five teams that are in on Lester, not four (link).
6:09pm: A front office person cautioned Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter) not to count the Yankees out of the Lester sweepstakes. Crasnick also spoke with a scout who is hearing the same thing.
4:38pm: The hope within the Giants’ organization that they have a legitimate shot to sign Lester has grown over the last 24 hours, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Just a week ago, they felt like they were a longshot in the chase.
4:16pm: Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe (on Twitter) hears that Lester has not eliminated the Red Sox. “Absolutely not,” a source said.
3:51pm: The Giants and Cubs seem to be the favorites, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
3:45pm: Lester’s agent Seth Levinson denies that his client has whittled his list down to two finalists, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The team has also said it has not been informed of any decision on its bid, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (via Twitter).
3:39pm: Free agent starter Jon Lester is choosing between the Cubs and Giants, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Rosenthal does caution that a late change in the bidding could shake things up.
The other teams said to be amongst the last suitors for Lester are the Red Sox and Dodgers. Boston, of course, was the only team that the 30-year-old had played before until he was dealt to the Athletics at the 2014 trade deadline.
Lester’s choice could have wide-reaching ramifications for the broader market, to say nothing of the teams involved.
The Giants have fallen short on a few free agent targets this offseason, but they’re not worried, reports Henry Schulman in a series of tweets. Per Schulman, the Giants don’t feel a need to “win” bidding wars. They’ll stick to their dollar figure, which could affect their pursuit of Jon Lester. The club clearly wasn’t comfortable topping the $68MM offer to Yasmany Tomas or $44MM offer to Nick Markakis. In the case of another free agent they missed out on – Pablo Sandoval – the Giants reportedly made a comparable offer to the Red Sox.
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the D’Backs would need to be “overwhelmed” to move Mark Trumbo. Still, the Mariners are among the teams that are monitoring the situation.
- Earlier today, Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa said that contrary to reports, there was no agreed upon deal with the Dodgers that would have sent Miguel Montero to L.A. When asked if a Montero-to-the-Dodgers deal could still happen, La Russa said, “The conversations are not what they were before. I think it’s less likely,” according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter). However, La Russa added that ownership has not deemed Montero untouchable (link).
- Dodgers president Andrew Friedman says that he’ll let the year play out before addressing Zack Greinke‘s opt out clause, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). From the sound of it, the Dodgers don’t have extension talks with the pitcher on their agenda for this winter.
- Friedman said he would have zero hesitation in trading players within the division, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- Friedman went on to say (link) that he has not visited any free agents this winter.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn’t think that there’s much to the speculation that the Rangers will make a run at Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner. Texas reportedly has more interest in Tyson Ross.
Jon Lester‘s decision about a new team could swing the balance of the entire offseason, so let’s get to the latest updates on the free agent southpaw…
- Lester’s camp is waiting to see if a club will up its offer to the $150MM level and/or include a seventh year, whether guaranteed or through a vesting option, per a report from Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. The bidding is believed to be sitting around $140MM over six years at present, McAdam adds.
- A decision tomorrow is more likely than this evening, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The interest of the final suitors “continues to evolve,” per Bradford.
- The Giants are receiving serious consideration from Lester and his team, Rosenthal tweets.
- Lester is expected to choose a destination no earlier than tonight and no later than tomorrow, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets.
- The Giants met with Seth Levinson, one of Lester’s agents, on Sunday night and the team hopes to have a deal worked out in the next couple of days, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links).
- An executive not involved in the Lester bidding predicts that the hurler will get a seven-year deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. “Book it,” the exec said. Lester has reportedly already received at least two offers north of $130MM.