The race for coveted free agent left-hander Jon Lester is down to four teams, with the Cubs and Red Sox leading the pack and the Giants and Dodgers also in the mix. On Sunday night, the Giants met with Lester's agent, Seth Levinson, in the hopes of making up some ground and completing a deal within the next couple of days, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Catcher Buster Posey was also around for the meeting and was "really impressive," a player told ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Barely a month removed from their third World Series title in the last five years, the Giants are facing the reality that Madison Bumgarner cannot handle a load in the regular season like the one he managed during the World Series. As such, they're looking to shore up a spotty rotation that has question marks Tim Lincecum and Yusmeiro Petit at the back end and Matt Cain (returning from elbow surgery) and Tim Hudson (4.73 second-half ERA) to follow Bumgarner.
The Cubs are also said to be making a strong push for Lester and have offered him something in the ballpark of $140 million over six years, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. The lefty's relationship with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein could also be a difference-maker. Meanwhile, Red Sox owner John Henry visited Lester on Friday and gave him an offer that "moved the needle" a bit toward Boston, sources told The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.
Few concrete details have been released about the Dodgers' pursuit of Lester, but it would be foolish to count them out given their immense financial capacity. Lester has stated that he won't make his final decision based on money—rather, the quality of the situation he'd be going to—but Los Angeles, with an already top-notch roster and favorable pitching conditions, might be appealing to Lester.