Free agent Jon Lester will reportedly have options spanning the country, as Buster Olney reported Monday morning that the left-hander was set to meet with the World Series champion Giants on Monday.
The Giants have been said to be players in the Lester sweepstakes since they missed out on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who signed with the Red Sox last week.
ESPNBoston.com first reported the Lester offer from Boston, which is believed to be for at least five years. Though terms of the offer were not disclosed, it is believed to be far more substantial than the four-year, $70 million pact the Sox offered Lester back in March. The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported it is a six-year deal in the $110-120 million range.
Lester, 30, spent the second half of the season pitching for the A”s after being traded from Boston. He spent the first eight-plus seasons of his career in Boston, where he was a three-time All-Star. In San Francisco, Lester would form a strong trio of starters along with postseason superstar Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
– Joey Nowak
Torii Hunter apparently has enough left in the tank to warrant interest from a handful of clubs, reportedly including the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners and Twins.
The Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Whicker tweeted after the USC-Notre Dame football game — Hunter was there to watch his son play for the Fighting Irish — that he has a short list which includes those four clubs. Immediately after the season, Hunter said retirement was also on the table.
The 39-year-old outfielder has spent the last two seasons with Detroit, and hit .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs this year. He has won nine Gold Gloves in center field, but would be a corner outfielder should he return in 2015.
The Twins are reportedly not expected to make as strong of a push. It’s also worth noting that Hunter lives in Prosper, Texas.
– Joey Nowak
As we wait for the Pablo Sandoval deal to be made official — the Red Sox have scheduled a press conference for this afternoon — CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman tweeted out some more details about the contract this morning.
Heyman says that Sandoval and the Red Sox have terms for a five-year contract worth $95 million plus a club option for a sixth year. He also wrote that Sandoval “could have gotten more” with the Padres or the Giants.
The Sandoval presser can be streamed live on MLB.com and RedSox.com at 1 p.m. ET.
– Joey Nowak
The reported signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez are apparently not slowing the Red Sox in their pursuit of Jon Lester.
Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted on Monday that Boston is “still very much engaged” with Lester and the “process [is] ongoing” in spite of the club’s recent free agent splashes.
Ramirez’s deal, first reported by FoxSports.com, is four years and $88 million with a $22 million vesting option for a fifth year. Sandoval’s is a five-year contract worth close to $100 million, CBSSports.com reported.
The Red Sox have met with Lester — who has met also with the Braves and Cubs, and could now be a target for the Giants — and made him an offer.
– Joey Nowak
It appears that not long after they secured one high-profile free agent, the Red Sox moved on and got another.
After reports began surfacing Sunday that Boston could be landing both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the two deals reportedly came to a head late Sunday/early Monday.
According to CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox agreed to a deal with the two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion Sandoval for close to $100 million over five years.
The Red Sox have not commented on the reports.
With Sandoval coming to play third and Ramirez possibly moving to the outfield, there’s a good chance Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Craig or Shane Victorino could be on the move.
– Joey Nowak
There are at least a trio of teams who are strong potential suitors for free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman has reported, and they span the country.
The White Sox “are considering a pursuit” of Cabrera in their quest to find a left-handed bat for their lineup. Heyman said the Mariners “could make sense” as a landing spot, and the Orioles if Baltimore doesn’t re-sign Nick Markakis.
Cabrera would likely slot into the No. 2 spot of the batting order in Chicago where, Heyman points out, the White Sox posted just a .279 on-base percentage (second-to-last in baseball).
Cabrera did receive a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Blue Jays that he rejected. Heyman says Toronto has engaged in long-term talks with Cabrera but their signing of Russell Martin and pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes it less likely.
– Joey Nowak
It was not unexpected when the Royals did not re-sign Billy Butler and the veteran first baseman/designated hitter signed elsewhere, but now the young Royals will be looking to fill the void left by one of the franchise’s most recognizable players.
Butler signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the A’s this week, a much bigger contract than Kansas City was able/willing to write out.
“Billy’s been a terrific player for us, he’s been outstanding in the community, he’s obviously a homegrown player and huge in our success. And Billy’s a fun player to watch in the batter’s box, there’s no doubt,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said.
“But we felt we wanted to free up our resources to use them to build a team with a little better balance going forward. We have to replace a starting pitcher [James Shields], we want to continue to try to improve our bullpen … with some more depth.”
The Royals now turn their attention to right field, where they hope they can find someone to play both that position and occasionally DH. Nori Aoki, a free agent, is an option to return.
The Kansas City Star‘s Andy McCullough wrote that the Royals worked out Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas this week in the Dominican Republic, but he is expected to see a contract north of $70 million, which may also be too lofty for Kansas City. McCullough also says a Torii Hunter-Carlos Peguero duo is possible, with a handful of KC players rotating in the DH role.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Nationals have said starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are both available for trade if a team presents the right deal.
Nightengale makes it clear that the Nats are not trying to dump salary, but both pitchers will be free agents in a year and Washington is willing to listen if a team is interested. Both pitchers — Zimmermann in particular — are sure to land significant contracts if they hit the free agent market, and the Nats may never get a better return for them than they will now.
– Joey Nowak
The Phillies, once considered favorites to land free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas, have cooled on the idea of signing the 23-year-old Cuban defector, according to Major League sources.
While the Phils, who had a private workout with Tomas, still like his bat there are concerns about his defense. They now view him as more of a designated hitter-type player, the sources added.
Of course, that thinking could change if the price for Tomas, once estimated to be as high as $100 million, begins to come down. The Phillies are trying to trade right fielder Marlon Byrd with an eye toward moving Domonic Brown from left to right. That would mean they would need to fill the vacancy in left internally (Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, Aaron Altherr) or from outside the organization.
Meanwhile, the primary offseason goal is to add at least two starting pitchers to a rotation that currently features left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee – their 2014 Opening Day starter who is a question after missing the final two months of the season with a flexor pronator strain.
— Paul Hagen
Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents of the offseason, and CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman is reporting that the slugger will be meeting with MLB clubs at the upcoming Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Tomas is also expected to command a deal bigger than the six-year, $72.5-million contract that Rusney Castillo received from the Red Sox.
Heyman says the Phillies, Giants and Padres have long been considered the front-runners, but the Royals — perhaps because of the loss of Billy Butler and the hole in right field — and “several other surprise teams” have recently joined the fray.
Heyman also suggests that there is some disagreement on where Tomas could play in the big leagues, with evaluators saying everything from corner outfield spots to third base.
– Joey Nowak