Having already met with the Cubs, the Red Sox, and the Braves, free agent lefty Jon Lester could wrap up his initial tour of interested teams this week.
According to a WEEI report, Lester will meet this week with two additional unnamed teams, presumably in advance of the Thursday Thanksgiving holiday. If you had to guess at the two teams, you’d probably go with the Cardinals and the Blue Jays, each of whom has been rumored to be interested. The Yankees, for all their protestations, probably do have interest, but I’ve got a feeling that if they had a meeting scheduled with Lester in the coming days, it would have leaked by now.
As things stand, we know that the Red Sox have made an official offer in the six-year, $110 to $120 million range, which will almost certainly not be enough to get a deal done. We know that the Cubs have met with Lester and his reps, but we don’t know if an official offer has been made or is imminently forthcoming. We also know that the Braves view themselves as a longshot.
It seems like Lester and his reps will wrap up these initial meetings before Thanksgiving, which could give them the weekend to regroup, and then proceed with the teams they view as most serious. Here’s hoping it’s not a situation where Lester’s camp will take that Boston offer, use it to get stronger offers from other teams (like the Cubs), and then use those offer(s) to give the Red Sox a “if you offer X amount, we’ll sign today.” It seems like that is often a strategy employed by agents when they want to target a particular team for a player and also get the best possible price, and I can’t shake the feeling that Boston remains the favorite here.
I would tentatively expect to get some fresh rumor-y type stuff on Lester this week, but I wouldn’t look for word on a decision, at the earliest, until after the Thanksgiving weekend. There’s a full week after the Thanksgiving weekend this year before the Winter Meetings start, so it could be even longer – and that’s assuming Lester is the first of the big-name pitchers to sign.