Just when the Cubs thought they had a chance to beat out the Red Sox for their top free-agent target, the Dodgers suddenly look like they’re about to make it rain on Jon Lester.
Sources confirmed multiple reports saying the Dodgers are in pursuit of the All-Star left-hander, with the economic muscle to crush the field if they choose to add Lester to starting rotation that already includes $215 million ace Clayton Kershaw and $147 million Cy Young-winner Zack Greinke.
The Cubs, who reportedly offered Lester a six-year, $138 million deal, don’t plan to get into a bidding war with the West Coast behemoth with the $8 billion TV deal and are holding out hope the Dodgers are merely doing some noisy saber-rattling in response to the rival San Francisco Giants’ interest in Lester.
But Greinke has an opt-out clause in his contract after next season, and some reports suggest the Dodgers could be looking at Lester as a replacement for Greinke — possibly even shopping Greinke if they land Lester.
It could make the Cubs a runner-up for their top target for the second winter in a row – after the Yankees overwhelmed the Cubs’ six-year, $120 million offer for Masahiro Tanaka by giving him seven years, $155 million.
(The Yankees, by the way, are not pursuing Lester, contrary to some reports/speculation on Wednesday.)
The Cubs and Red Sox — who reportedly has a $130 million offer on the table for Lester — were said to be the front-runners before the Dodgers emerged as a suitor, with Lester said to be willing to give the Red Sox a hometown discount after nine seasons with the club that included two World Series titles.
He has a home near Boston’s spring-training site in Fort Myers, Florida., and, according to some insiders, favors a team that trains in Florida.
The Cubs, Dodgers and Giants all train in Arizona. The St. Louis Cardinals, who also have been linked to Lester, train in Jupiter, Florida.
Lester has appeared in no rush to make a decision, but a source close to the process anticipated a decision by early next week, if not this weekend.