Masterson garnering significant interest

Free agent right-hander Justin Masterson has already met with the Red Sox and is expected to hold meetings with the Marlins, White Sox and possibly Cubs during this week’s Winter Meetings, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. At least three other teams — the Royals, Giants and Twins — have displayed varying amounts of interest in Masterson.

Masterson, who will turn 30 next March, is coming off a diastrous, injury-plagued season in which he went 7-9 with an unsightly 5.88 ERA over 28 combined outings (25 starts) between the Indians and Cardinals. The righty, however, was the Indians’ ace in 2013, making his first All-Star appearance while racking up a 14-10 record to go with a 3.45 ERA.

Now seemingly healthy, Masterson could be a legitimate bounceback candidate. It’s with that in mind that teams are hoping to find a bargain with what is likely to be a one- or two-year deal.

Masterson was drafted by the Red Sox in 2006 and broke into the big leagues with Boston in 2008. He pitched one-and-a-half seasons for the Sox before being traded to the Indians at the 2009 Trade Deadline. Given that history, Masterson is familiar with current Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from those days together in Boston.

The Cubs, however, have reportedly signed free agent Jason Hammel and remain focused on landing Jon Lester, who’s expected to announce a decision no later than Tuesday. The actual market for Masterson, like any pitcher still on the market, should become more clear once Lester announces his decision.

— Paul Casella

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