Cubs bide their time while Lester mulls options

Coveted by multiple teams, left-hander also considering Giants, Boston

Cubs bide their time while Lester mulls options

CHICAGO -- Will Jon Lester go west and join the defending World Series champion Giants? Will he return to Boston? Or, will the free-agent pitcher pick the Cubs and rejoin Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer?

Lester isn't tipping his hand. His Twitter account, @JLester31, lists "???" as his location as he considers his options.

All the Cubs can do is wait.

On Monday, Lester met in Atlanta with a delegation from the Giants, who pitched a return to the Bay Area; the left-hander played in the last two months of this past season with the Athletics.

The Giants, Red Sox and Cubs can afford Lester, who was 16-11 with a career-best 2.46 ERA in 32 starts last season for Boston and Oakland combined. According to reports, the Cubs and Red Sox have made six-year offers to Lester worth $138 million and $130 million, respectively.

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Lester, who turns 31 on Jan. 7, also has met with the Braves, but they reportedly did not make an offer, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta president of baseball operations John Hart said on MLB Network Radio that the timing may not be right for the Braves to sign Lester, whose offseason home is near the site of the team's new ballpark.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, Lester was to meet with two more teams this week. The Cardinals are not believed to be one of them. Last Friday, St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak described his club's interest in Lester as due diligence, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I feel we still have depth," Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch. "We don't have to do something now."

Lester has two World Series rings from his days with the Red Sox, including one from 2007 when Epstein and Hoyer were in Boston's front office. Epstein, now president of baseball operations for the Cubs, met with Lester on Nov. 18 in Chicago.

What the Cubs have to do is convince the lefty to switch to the National League, while selling him on being a key part of the team's bid to end a 108-year championship drought. Chicago does have young talent in Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, a new manager in Joe Maddon and a young rotation that includes Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood, and Kyle Hendricks.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.