Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are reportedly meeting Tuesday with Jon Lester, but the Cubs are not the last stop on his recruiting tour. Buster Olney reported Tuesday morning that Lester will meet with the Braves later in the week and reports from David O’Brien indicated the meeting will take place Thursday as John Hart and company continue to explore ways to improve Atlanta’s staff.
Ken Rosenthal mentioned last week to not rule out the Braves in the Jon Lester sweepstakes.
Several have questioned if the Braves will pay Jon Lester what he is expected to make in free agency. But Atlanta freed up about $11 million when Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden were shipped to the Cardinals. David O’Brien reported John Hart has “said the Braves didn’t plan to pursue big money free agents this winter, but Lester is deemed worthy of at least doing due diligence.”
David O’Brien thinks it is unlikely the Braves would sign Jon Lester before he pointed out a deal could be backloaded over the last four years of the contract so the Braves would have revenue from its new stadium, which opens in 2017, to help pay his salary.
Pete Abraham said not to underestimate Lester signing with the Braves. Lester has two young sons, the close proximity of his house in Atlanta to the stadium (30 minutes) and “being around family full-time is a big plus for him.”
On the Cubs front, the Tribune reported Jon Lester was scheduled to arrive from Boston to meet with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The front office is “all business” as they try to convince Lester to sign with the Cubs according to the Tribune.
Peter Gammons appeared on Dennis & Callahan (WEEI – Boston) Tuesday morning and stayed consistent in his belief that Jon Lester will end up re-signing with the Red Sox. And he said Tuesday the Cubs also think that Lester will re-up with Boston.
“I think one thing … obviously the Cubs are going to make every play … I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going back to Boston. I think it’s very smart for Lester and his agents to hold another week. I think there’s a feeling it is going to go past Thanksgiving, maybe into the first week into December and the hope is that the Yankees look at that rotation and they think … I mean how do they know [Masahiro] Tanaka, [Michael Pineda and [Ivan] Nova are going to be healthy next year and that they start thinking about ‘OK, we have great bullpen, but … That is Red Sox ownership’s worst nightmare … the Yankees and Theo Epstein negotiating against them.”
There is at least one team of the six to seven clubs that are believed to have shown legitimate interest in Jon Lester that has still not surfaced. The Red Sox, Cubs and the Braves will have met with Lester by Thursday and the Royals had a meeting with Lester’s agents in Kansas City last week. It is unknown at this point if the Blue Jays have a stop on The Lester Tour scheduled.
If anything, it appears to be toward the middle of the process for Jon Lester.