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jon lester feature red soxWe’re starting early this morning …

Generally speaking, players traded by their long-time team on the verge of free agency do not return to that team in free agency. There are a variety of reasons it happens that way, but it’s very close to a universal truth.

For a while now, it’s been unclear whether Jon Lester and the Red Sox would be the exception. As soon as he was traded to the A’s at the Trade Deadline, Lester was indicating that he would have no problem coming back, and there were reports that the Red Sox were telling Lester that they planned to try and bring him back. It felt a little different than the usual trade separation, but, with the Cubs heavily interested, among other teams, it seemed like a reunion was still unlikely.

Well, Gordon Edes reports that a “well-connected baseball executive” is predicting, after conversations with Red Sox personnel, that the Red Sox will indeed re-sign Lester, perhaps on a six-year deal worth more than $20 million per year. It’s a far cry from the four-year, $70 million extension they offered him earlier in the year.

Edes notes that it would be unwise to bet your life savings on a deal, but he seems fairly convinced that the Red Sox are going to make a very serious go at Lester.

Cubs fans who are dead set on an offseason that includes Lester should probably be bracing themselves, because I do find this plausible. If the Red Sox go to, say, six years and $140 million, how much higher would the Cubs have to go to beat them out? 6/$150 million? 7/$165 million?

I’m not going to say the Cubs absolutely should not do that, but for $165 million, the Cubs would likely be able to sign, for example (and these are just rough estimates to give you a sense), Russell Martin ($64 million), Francisco Liriano ($33 million), Brandon McCarthy ($40 million), and David Robertson ($28 million). Again, I’m not saying it’s clear, and there are draft pick considerations, but there’s your context, in terms of a total commitment of dollars.

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