Is it down to a Final Four of the Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers? Is this the week Jon Lester makes a decision?
As has been the case for weeks, there are more questions than answers when it comes to Jon Lester. There are at least four teams with deep pockets in pursuit of the southpaw and despite reports to the contrary, the Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers appear to be waiting on Lester to make a decision before moving forward and making other moves to improve their rosters.
While Ryan Dempster was selling the benefits of pitching for the Cubs, Red Sox’ principal owner John Henry was reportedly in the Atlanta area to personally meet with Jon Lester on Friday. The Giants have Tim Hudson calling his good friend and Buster Posey asking David Ross questions about how to persuade Lester to sign with the Giants. And Josh Beckett along with several of Lester’s old Red Sox teammates can talk up playing in Los Angeles without Andrew Friedman having to say a word.
Lester’s camp has remained quiet throughout the process and has not given a timeframe on when he will make a decision and sign a term sheet. According to Jon Heyman, Lester has multiple offers in hand in the $130-140 million range. The Cubs bid is believed to be for at least six years and $138 million. But a report from ESPN Chicago indicated the Cubs offer may be more than the $130-140 million than has been reported.
The Cubs are believed to be the only team Jon Lester has visited. The Red Sox, Braves and Giants met with Lester in Atlanta. And GM Brian Sabean was part of the Giants sit down along with Bruce Bochy according to the San Jose Mercury News. Lester was reportedly very impressed with the Cubs and his interest in pitching on the North Side dates back to at least the 2013 season based on comments from Ryan Dempster.
Questions have popped up, according to Jon Heyman, about how serious the Dodgers actually are in their pursuit of Jon Lester. Heyman was being told the Dodgers would likely stay out of the Lester sweepstakes in the days leading up to WEEI breaking the story that the Dodgers were interested in signing Lester and prepared to blow past any previous offer for the lefty.
Teams could be making a final push to land their top free agent target. An announcement could be made this week at the Winter Meetings. But for now, the waiting continues …