Yes, it’s your third Jon Lester post of the day. That’s how you know things must be getting close.
We know that the Cubs, Red Sox, and Giants are still involved in the Lester process, which could wrap up by the end of the week. But, according to Jayson Stark, there’s a fourth team in the bidding. That must be the – for lack of a less hackneyed term – mystery team to which Peter Gammons referred earlier.
Who is that fourth team, about which Stark has heard from an official with a team involved in the bidding (i.e., the Cubs, Red Sox, or Giants)? Well, Stark can’t say, but “rival teams” speculate that it’s the Cardinals. I may well have guessed that myself, but I found GM John Mozeliak’s general rebuke of the idea that the Cardinals would spend big on a starter right now fairly compelling. Sure, it could always be misdirection.
Still, my guess would have been the Yankees. Despite their protestations, I’ve always expected that, once the offers were in, the Yankees would try and swoop in to top everyone (especially given that the reportedly top offer right now is “only” six years and $138 million).
But, if there’s a fourth team bidding as of today, at least two gents say it isn’t the Yankees:
nothing to indicate yanks in on lester, who has at least cubs, bos & sf bidding. if nyy makes big SP play it'll be scherzer
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2014
Very good non-team source tells me that Yankees have not made offer to Jon Lester. "If George was alive they might. We'll see if sons do."
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) December 3, 2014
So who is it? Well, maybe the Cardinals. Maybe the Blue Jays. And maybe it truly is a shocker of a mystery team like the Mariners or the Orioles.
The days grow short.
UPDATE: Just as I published, a WEEI report came out, suggesting that the “mystery team” is the Dodgers. You know, SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS and all that. I said earlier today that I just couldn’t count the Yankees and Dodgers out, and I guess that was fair. We’ll see how serious the Dodgers’ pursuit is, and whether this mystery team is the mystery team or just a mystery team. Things are definitely coming to a head, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see more teams involved than we’ve even heard about yet, especially when “final bids” get tossed around. Maybe the Cardinals have been playing it cool all along. Maybe the Braves toss a hail mary to the local (their offseason has been a bit bizarre already). Maybe the Yankees jump in late. Maybe a truly mysterious mystery team pops up.
Or maybe it just comes down the Cubs and Red Sox. I’m suddenly reminded of something I once heard Kevin Goldstein say after he left the writing and prospecting space for the private front office space. He estimated that about 8% of what’s really going on is out there and known, accurately, by the public. Sounds about right.
In any case, the meter is running on Lester and the price is climbing. That part, at least, was always expected.