Jon Lester Rumors

Jon Lester Rumors: Sunday

Here’s the latest on free agent ace Jon Lester.

  • The Giants are “very serious” about Lester, but are considering possible alternatives in case Lester doesn’t sign with them, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Those alternatives include free agents Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Max Scherzer and James Shields, along with potential trade target Cole Hamels.
  • It looks like at least two teams have bid more than $130MM for Lester, Heyman writes. The Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are all contenders for Lester, but the Cubs are reportedly trying to separate themselves, with an offer that could top $140MM. Lester appears likely to pick a new team by the end of this week’s Winter Meetings.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Scherzer, Red Sox

David Ortiz plans to give some guidance to Hanley Ramirez as he begins his next chapter with the Red Sox, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  “He looks at me as one of his older brothers,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to try to encourage him to do the right thing as long we keep on playing [together] and probably beyond that because I don’t have the time that he has left. I’m going to, like we normally say, take him under my wing and show him whatever I can help him with and make sure he’s really successful in Boston.”  More from the AL East..


Giants Getting “Aggressive” In Pursuit Of Chase Headley

The Giants’ interest in Chase Headley is “turning aggressive,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  San Francisco had been linked to Headley and several other notable players in the wake of Pablo Sandoval leaving for Boston, though it appears they’ve stepped up their pursuit of Headley to fill their third base vacancy.

Headley reportedly has a four-year, $65MM offer in hand from a mystery team, a sizable bump from the four-year, $48MM that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted Headley would receive in free agency.  The Marlins and Yankees have both been linked to Headley in rumors, though neither team is the one behind the $65MM offer; the Yankees, in fact, don’t seem willing to go beyond three years to sign him.

Rosenthal isn’t sure how, if at all, the Giants’ focus on Headley could impact their interest in Jon Lester, who had also been cited as Giants target in recent days.  As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted in his Giants Offseason Outlook, the team was willing to give Sandoval a deal in the $95MM range and undoubtedly had a bump in revenue from their World Series victory.  If I had to guess, I’d suspect that the Giants would be able to afford both Headley and an ace-level starter like Lester if they felt the need.



Jon Lester Rumors: Saturday

Here’s the latest on left-hander Jon Lester

  • Lester was visited at his Atlanta home by Red Sox owner John Henry on Friday, according to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford and Alex Speier.  This is Henry’s second visit to Atlanta this winter, as he and other members of Boston’s ownership group met with Lester earlier this offseason.
  • The relationship between Lester and Red Sox ownership was addressed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post in his recent analysis of Lester’s market.  A source involved in the negotiations described the two sides as “frenemies,” as Lester’s trust in the Sox organization was badly damaged by their lowball extension offer to him last spring.  In pursuing Lester, then, the Sox have been doing everything they can to repair that trust, with Sherman comparing it to how Dan Gilbert (owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers) had to atone for his past errors when convincing LeBron James to rejoin the Cavs last summer.
  • Lester “never even comes up in discussions” in the Yankees front office, one team executive tells Sherman.  It is looking less and less likely that the Yankees will make a last-minute entry into the Lester sweepstakes, leaving perhaps the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers and Giants as the four finalists.
  • Also from Sherman, Lester’s good friend Tim Hudson is working hard to convince the lefty to join him in the Giants rotation.  Lester was reportedly “very impressed” by a meeting with manager Bruce Bochy.

Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Dodgers Notes: Kemp, Lester, Martin

Here’s the latest from Chavez Ravine…

  • The Dodgers were allegedly planning to have a fairly quiet offseason, though given their involvement in several high-profile rumors, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wonders if the club has changed its tune after seeing their rivals in San Francisco win yet another World Series.  The Dodgers have spent so much time exploring a Matt Kemp trade, for instance, that some feel their efforts have gone beyond due diligence and they’re seriously thinking of moving the outfielder.
  • Andrew Friedman doesn’t mind “noise” about his team’s intentions, and Heyman suggests that the lack of certainty about the Dodgers’ winter plans could be of some use to the team.  For instance, one rival executive thinks the Dodgers’ reported interest in Jon Lester could be a ploy to drive the left-hander’s price up and potentially keep him away from the Giants.  Another rival exec says Lester “really isn’t an L.A. guy” and wouldn’t be prone to sign with a team only due to the money.
  • A source tells Heyman that the Dodgers offered Russell Martin a four-year, $74MM contract.  Though it fell short of the five-year, $82MM deal that Martin received from Toronto, Los Angeles’ offer is the second-largest bid known to have been made for the catcher, topping the Cubs’ reported $70MM offer.
  • Trading Kemp doesn’t make sense for a Dodgers team that’s trying to win now, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times argues.  Another club isn’t likely to surrender an elite prospect for a player with Kemp’s contract and injury history, so Dilbeck feels the Dodgers are better off keeping their valuable power bat.

Free Agent Notes: Top Pitchers, Rios, Royals, Everth, Astros

With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.

A few more notes pertaining to free agency…

  • The MarinersRoyals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
  • The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
  • Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
  • Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
  • Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.

Jon Lester Rumors: Friday

The Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are believed to be the top four suitors for Jon Lester, who reportedly isn’t expected to make a decision prior to the beginning of next week’s Winter Meetings. We’ll keep track of today’s Lester rumors here…

  • Ryan Dempster, who joined the Cubs‘ front office today, has been in contact with Lester and talked up how great it is to pitch with the Cubs, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. A source familiar with the Lester negotiations told Rogers that reports indicating a $130-140MM offer from the Cubs are actually low. Lester is expected to top $150MM, Rogers writes, and if a team “blows past” that number by adding a seventh year or bidding $160-170MM, Chicago is likely to bow out of the race.

Jon Lester Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest on Jon Lester, whose market appears to be heating up dramatically after the Dodgers joined the sweepstakes yesterday:

  • The Dodgers could blow the Red Sox out of the water if they wanted to, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. With their financial resources, it’s hard to outbid L.A. for a player they really want. That said, the Dodgers reportedly hired their All-Star executive team to help trim costs. Of course, a Lester signing could also serve as protection for when Zack Greinke exercises his opt out clause following the season.
  • Barring any additional mystery teams, the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants appear to be the final bidders for Lester. While the Giants tend to be viewed as an also-ran, don’t count them out, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy has met with Lester, and the club has the necessary money after missing out on Pablo Sandoval. All four clubs have a lot to offer.
  • Lester is unlikely to sign prior to the Winter Meetings, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. With four clubs vying for his services, it makes sense to take time making a decision.

Dodgers Pursuing Jon Lester

Jon Lester reportedly met with the Giants earlier this week and has now had in-person meetings with the Cubs, Red Sox, Braves, Giants and Cardinals. He’s hoping to have all of his team visits concluded prior to the beginning of the Winter Meetings on Sunday. As he moves closer to a decision, here are today’s Lester rumors…

  • The Dodgers are preparing to make a major push to add Lester, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford and Alex Speier report. It would appear that Los Angeles is the “mystery team” involved, and that club’s entry could well provide a significant jolt to the market.

Earlier Updates

  • Peter Gammons tweets that while many fans scoff at the notion of “mystery teams,” he’s spoken to three different GMs that feel there’s a serious new entrant into the Lester sweepstakes.
  • Lining up with that report, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes that a fourth team has joined the Cubs, Red Sox, and Giants in the final bidding.