The market for Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester continues to expand, as the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, and Oakland Athletics are now demonstrating interest in the soon-to-be free agent, writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam. The quartet joins a list of interested parties that already includes the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals. The Miami Marlins are also showing interest in Lester, per ESPN.com's JimBowden.
According to McAdam, the Red Sox are open to dealing Lester within the division, though the New York Yankees, who have pitching problems of their own, will be excluded. This makes sense considering the Blue Jays have been mentioned as the most aggressive pursuer of Lester, and could put together one of the more impressive packages of prospects among possible suitors.
Speaking of prospects, the Red Sox are apparently looking to obtain "multiple" prospects, including at least one of eltie caliber, in a return for Lester, though they are also willing to accept established players. Their pursuit of elite prospects does give an upper-hand to teams such as the Dodgers (Joc Pederson and Corey Seager), Mariners (Taijuan Walker), and Cardinals (Oscar Tavares), who, not coincidentally, are also the favorites to land David Price if he is moved. The Orioles could also put together a rather appealing package centered around either Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey,
The Brewers could be an especially intriguing landing spot for Lester, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. If Milwaukee can nab Lester, the move would be reminiscent of the July 2008 deal that netted the Brewers CC Sabathia, who was dominant throughout the stretch run, leading them to the postseason. The club is in an eerily similar situation right now, clinging to just a 1.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. The Brewers' farm system is also improved compared to recent years, and they could use right-hander Jimmy Nelson as a centerpiece in a Lester deal. Milwaukee is also said to be pursuing Price.
It still isn't a complete certainty that Boston deals their longstanding ace, as sources tell ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes that there is currently a less than 50 percent chance that Lester is dealt before Thursday's deadline.
While Lester may end up staying put, the Red Sox likely won't stand pat altogether, as they are shopping numerous other pieces that includes relievers Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop, as well as starter John Lackey.
The 30-year-old Lester has a 2.52 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 4.66 K/BB, and 3.0 WAR this season. He is making $13 million this season, and will be a free agent in November barring an extension. Contract negotiations between the Red Sox and Lester appear to be going downhill, with the latest update coming from ESPN's Buster Olney, who is told by a close friend of Lester that there is "no chance" he returns to Boston.