A very interesting update on the Jon Lester pursuit from fellow Jon – Heyman – today as the first Jon visits with the Giants and the other Jon writes about it. I’ve confused myself.
Jon Heyman writes today about the Giants’ interest in free agent starter Jon Lester, who is meeting with important Giants personnel today. Heyman’s piece is worth reading for that reason, but there’s more: he reports that the Cubs’ offer to Lester presently stands at six years and $138 million (which would confirm Dave Kaplan’s original report of six years and “north of $135 million”), and the Red Sox have indicated a willingness to go to $130 million over six years (the only offer that has been reported so far is six years and $110 to $120 million).
If that’s the current spread, you have to wonder if the $8 million difference – just a touch more than $1 million in AAV – would be enough to persuade Lester if he was already predisposed to wanting to head back to Boston (which is just an educated guess by folks involved in this free agency story). It probably won’t matter, though, as Heyman points out – and I agree – because it’s unlikely that the final price tag isn’t a bit higher. Six years and $150 million is not out of the question. Seven years is not entirely out of the question.
Whether the Cubs are the team on the other end of that offer remains to be seen. This isn’t even necessarily solely a Cubs/Sox race just yet.
For now, it’s just very interesting to hear that the Red Sox – perhaps already knowing the Cubs’ offer – have expressed a willingness to come close to the Cubs’ offer, but not match it. That suggests that the Red Sox do believe that they’ve got the inside track. Of course, nothing here precludes the Red Sox from upper their offer further as the negotiations near a conclusion, and maybe they’re counting on that – and their present offer(s) don’t indicate any kind of confidence at all.
Buster Olney, for what it’s worth, is still guessing that the Cubs wind up the signing team in the end:
Only a guess, but at this moment — and offers change — I'd handicap the race for Lester this way: 1. Cubs 2. Red Sox 3. Others.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 1, 2014
That’s the second guess today that has Lester going to the Cubs. But, as Olney notes, things change. And it’s “only a guess.” You just can’t take too much away from it, beyond the mere fact of the Cubs’ serious involvement.