Although many around baseball are waiting on Jon Lester to make his decision, it’s not like he’s just sitting around doing nothing in free agency.
According to Buster Olney, Lester’s meeting with the San Francisco Giants is today. Lester has already met with the Cubs, Red Sox, and Braves, and could meet with another as-of-yet-unidentified team this week, before possibly making a decision in advance of the Winter Meetings, which start one week from today.
Speaking of those meetings and the involved teams, it already seemed like the Braves were out on Lester – if they ever were realistic in the first place – and now you can bank it that they’re out. As team president John Hart told Jim Bowden, Lester may be the right player for the Braves, but available at the wrong time.
The Giants are expected to be a very serious suitor for Lester, by the way, so don’t sleep on what’s happening today. I will be very interested to see if we hear anything about how the meeting goes – and if an offer is made – other than the usual fluff. Pitching in San Francisco has to be a fairly attractive option, particularly given the fact that the Giants win the World Series every other year. It’s a lock. Don’t even try to compete in 2016, other teams.
As for the Cubs, if you’re looking for some optimism, WEEI’s Danny Picard is guessing that Lester ultimately winds up with the Cubs. Most Boston sources have expressed cautious optimism that Lester would re-sign with the Red Sox when all was said and done, so it is minimally notable that Picard doesn’t see it going that way. That said … who knows what is actually informing Picard’s opinion? Maybe he’s heard some things. Maybe he’s just pessimistic by nature. Maybe he was just offering a guess based on nothing at all. But, hey, if you were looking for an optimistic sign, there you go. There haven’t been many in recent weeks.
None of that is to say that Lester won’t ultimately sign with the Cubs. I’m not trying to create an air of negativity about the Cubs’ chances, because I do think – based on what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen and what I’ve read and what I’ve rolled around in my own head – that the Cubs have always had some chance to sign Lester. It’s just that there are reasons to believe the Red Sox may have the inside track here. That doesn’t mean they’ll get him. It just means I suspect other teams will have to overcome that – be it with a convincing sales pitch, an outrageous offer, or a combination of both – in order to actually sign him.
That’s one of many things you have to remember about free agency: the players are human beings, subject to preferences and predispositions. As much as you, the fan, might want the Cubs to “just do what it takes” to sign a guy like Lester (or whoever), that doesn’t mean it is realistically possible, or necessarily advisable at the price point required. The good news for the Cubs is that, while getting Lester would be pretty awesome because he’s a stud, there are many other quality options out there.
For now, I trust in the process, and we’ll see what happens this week. We may not have a clear picture of how this process was actually proceeding until after Lester signs wherever he signs.