Jon Lester, the top free agent without a qualifying offer attached to his name, continues to be one of the most talked-about players on the market. He’s been linked to the Cubs, Red Sox, Braves, Giants and Cardinals of late, and things only figure to pick up for Lester as next week’s Winter Meetings approach.
We’ll keep track of Monday’s Lester rumors here in this post…
- The Braves did not make Lester an offer after their recent meeting, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The team did not believe it would be able to make a competitive offer given the strength of Lester’s market, O’Brien explains. It would appear that Atlanta is not in the running to land the lefty at this point.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Cubs have offered Lester $138MM over six years, while the Red Sox have expressed a willingness to go up to $130MM following their initial offer in the $110-120MM range. Lester is meeting with the Giants today and is set to talk to two more clubs this week, per Heyman, who adds that it seems like a long shot that Lester will sign anywhere but Boston, Chicago (Cubs), Atlanta or San Francisco. Heyman adds that Lester would probably need to be willing to take a hometown discount to sign with the Braves (which is where he lives in the offseason).
- The Giants appear to be the last serious team to meet with Lester, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. A $25MM AAV remains very possible for him at this point, Levine adds. Heyman also noted in his piece that Lester could top that milestone.
- The Giants are meeting with Lester today, reports ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). San Francisco’s final offer to Pablo Sandoval was said to be for at least $95MM over five years, so it stands to reason that the $95-100MM they were willing to spend on Sandoval could be in play for Lester. Of course, that figure is expected to be well shy of Lester’s eventual contract, but the Giants undoubtedly have additional funds beyond the sum that was set aside for Sandoval, especially coming off another World Series victory.
- WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports that Lester’s camp would like all of its visits to interested teams to be completed prior to the Winter Meetings (Twitter link).
- In a second tweet, Olney speculatively handicaps the Lester market with the following ranking: 1. Cubs; 2. Red Sox; 3. Everyone else.