Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Lester — by all accounts — is the prize of this offseason and the chase is on to sign the right-hander. There were thoughts the Boston Red Sox were the obvious option during the season after they traded him to the Oakland Athletics. He even mentioned he would welcome a return to Bean Town. The Red Sox did make an offer to Lester Wednesday, but nothing is official.
However, money talks and now at least four teams are in the hunt and two of them directly impact the Pittsburgh Pirates. The St. Louis Cardinals are going after Lester in an effort to put together a rotation that would be ridiculously strong at the top. Adam Wainwright would naturally remain as the no. 1 and having Lester — also an ace — as the no. 2 should strike fear in any other team.
The Chicago Cubs are definitely looking like a team that wants to go all in this offseason after signing manager Joe Maddon. They were also in the race to sign catcher Russell Martin. Adding Lester would give the Cubs their first true ace since the days of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Theo Epstein wants to give fans something to cheer about and landing Lester would be an excellent move. The Cubs already have one of the best young and powerful lineups in the majors and could seriously disrupt the National League in 2015.
The Pirates have had a good offseason by signing A.J. Burnett and trading for catcher Francisco Cervelli but if the Cubs or Cards get Lester it could spell trouble. The Pirates cannot panic, but they must do something else to balance it out as much as possible.
The N.L. Central is turning into a hotbed of interesting moves this offseason and if the first two weeks of free agency are a sign of things to come, we are all in for a treat as ate Autumn turns to the Winter Meetings.