If I said I was surprised, that probably wouldn’t fully encapsulate the fact that you could knock me over with a feather:

This is something. The Red Sox have always been the most compelling suitor, and, if they’re truly out, that means they weren’t willing to offer an amount of money that would make Lester think about eschewing teams that were (probably) offering more.

So, if it’s the Cubs and Giants, then the Cubs only have to overcome that World Series thing and that great infrastructure thing and everyone-likes-the-Giants thing. They’ve got the relationships and the closer proximity to Atlanta, plus the special place in history thing.



But I can’t help but wonder if, at this point, it’s going to come down to the money.

Obviously the updates will continue to roll in, because this is a pretty dramatic turn.

UPDATE: Jim Bowden and Rob Bradford provide the nearly immediate denial:

Now, then: Ken Rosenthal is basically never wrong. So I’ll cast my lot there any day. Secondly, it’s obviously not in Lester’s agent’s interest to allow the appearance that the field has been narrowed to spread. Even if it’s true that it’s down to the Cubs and Giants, he surely doesn’t want the Cubs and Giants knowing that, because it could hold back the bidding. It also may technically be true that the Red Sox and Dodgers (and maybe Braves or a mystery team) are still in it, but I’m guessing that Rosenthal was cutting through the technicallies.

Then again, it’s always possible that Rosenthal’s sources were wrong, and there’s some misdirection at play here. Can’t live without drama, man.

UPDATE 2 (3:56pm CT): Gonna have to start giving these the ole timestamp treatment. Feels like that kind of evening is about to unfold. Here’s Jon Heyman throwing in his two cents:



Fair guess? The Red Sox have been told, “Lester will sign with you for $X,” and the Red Sox have continued to balk at that figure. The Cubs and Giants are willing to go to $X+Y. Thus, they are deemed the favorites, but the Red Sox are not technically out yet.

UPDATE 3 (4:07pm CT): I’m thinking that guess is probably correct. Sean McAdam reports that not only have the Red Sox not been told they’re out, they still have a meeting scheduled with Lester’s agents tonight. I wonder if they’ll get a last chance to agree to Price X – whatever that is – at the meeting.

UPDATE 4 (4:37pm CT): Buster Olney notes something that parallels the “feel” of the pursuit:

The Giants didn’t really seem like a real threat a week ago. Now it feels very different, obviously.

UPDATE 5 (5:01pm CT): Joel Sherman tweets that the Giants could be using money they saved on Pablo Sandoval to get Lester, a guy the Red Sox actually needed more than Sandoval. I don’t think he’s saying the Giants ARE definitely getting Lester, mind you. I just think he’s making one of those, “Heh, that’s funny” kind of points.

UPDATE 6 (5:35pm CT): Further fodder for my theory that the Red Sox are not out to the extent they’re willing to meet a certain price, Nick Cafardo says we might find that very thing out tonight:

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal tosses out an argument for teams to go to seven years on Lester, being that he isn’t attached to draft pick compensation, and Scherzer/next year’s top guys won’t come any cheaper. Normally, it’s the kind of thing I’d expect to hear coming from a guy who had it pushed on him by an agent. But Rosenthal just reported something – the thing that started this post – that was immediately refuted by Lester’s agent (who may have been annoyed by the report in the first place).

UPDATE 7 (6:21pm CT): Yeah, OK, sure, why not:

After weeks of folks telling you to count out the Yankees on Lester, would they jump in at the last minute? Would Lester be swayed? Eh, maybe and maybe. But I’ll need more before I’m too worried about the Yankees. But would anything surprise you at this point? That’s a lame cliche, actually. The Marlins would surprise me.

OK, so, yeah. The Yankees would surprise me at this point. Just a lot less than the Marlins.

UPDATE 8 (7:10pm CT): Red Sox manager John Farrell met with the media, and expressed some confidence (which probably doesn’t mean much, but here it is anyway):

UPDATE 9 (7:36pm CT): Jon Heyman doesn’t think much of Crasnick’s earlier Yankees report, saying that they prefer Max Scherzer (which Heyman has always said), and there’s no real reason to think the Yankees are in on Lester.

UPDATE 10 (7:41pm CT): Jed Hoyer is meeting with the media right now – which is not to say me, I’m seeing it on the Twitters – and, not that you’d expect otherwise, but he’s not really saying much of anything about Lester. They ignore the rumors, they don’t know the timing of anything, etc. The Cubs want to add multiple starting pitchers is as far as it sounds like Hoyer will go. Even as the writer in me craves more, the fan in me recognizes that this is the right approach right now. There’s just no use in saying much right now.

UPDATE 11 (7:44pm CT): Ben Cherington is also meeting with the media, and, unlike Hoyer, he was willing to say some things (which, alone, could suggest that he may not see Lester coming back). I present without comment or hopefulness:

UPDATE 12 (9:10pm CT): Ok, switching back from Montero updates to Lester updates. Brian Sabean also met with the media, and, like Cherington, he was fairly open with his thoughts. Among them: the Giants are not engaged with any other players right now besides Jon Lester (John Shea), and Sabean believes there are five teams still in on Lester, not four (also Shea). Hmm. If I wanted to read this positively for the Cubs, I could say this is Sabean setting up a story where they tried very hard for Lester – focused exclusively on him for a time – but there were so many other teams involved, they just couldn’t pull it off. On the other hand, it could simply be legit that there’s a fifth team in there and all five are still in the running. And the Giants are legit trying hard to get this thing done.

UPDATE 13 (10:07pm CT): Theo Epstein previously mentioned that, if you add impact pieces, it can affect the other moves you make for the near/long-term, because you’d want to surround the impact pieces with the right kind of team. Thus, I believe this:

That’s *if* the Cubs get Lester (or a similar impact arm), however.

UPDATE 14 (10:41pm CT): Patrick Mooney writes about the Lester saga, and it’s a great read. Some sources predict this, and some predict that. That’s the nature of these things. And it’s amazing how solid the sources seem on all sides of this thing.




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