Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 -- the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A's. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 — the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A’s. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Need a top-of-the-rotation left-hander? Beyond Jon Lester, the obvious premium option on the market is Cole Hamels.

The Lester and Hamels markets unquestionably are interrelated. Any of the teams — Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants — that are currently engaged on Lester represent obvious potential trade destinations for Hamels if they lose out on him.

As such, according to a source familiar with the Phillies’ thinking, Philadelphia will wait for a full exploration of the Hamels trade market until after Lester signs. At that point, a prospect bidding war could proceed quickly for the 30-year-old, who will represent a $24 million a year average annual salary as calculated for luxury tax purposes over the remaining four years of his contract, with an option for 2018 at $20 million (with an $8 million buyout).

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said that his team would require an enormous haul in order to deal Hamels, who was 9-9 with a career-best 2.46 ERA in 204 2/3 innings in 2014.

“I know with any of these players that [GM Ruben Amaro] wants a deal that’s going to be good for the Philadelphia Phillies going forward. Anyway that he can help the process and add players that can help us not only this next year but in the future, that’s the goal,” said Sandberg. “There’s no way that Ruben’s going to just give away a player.  I mean, we’d have to be wowed to give up a guy like Cole Hamels, which would be a wow that would help us with the process and go in the direction that we want to go. … I’m just waiting to see through this process to see what comes about. Whether Ruben gets wowed or not is yet to be seen. If not, then he’s on our pitching staff, and we build some more starting pitching depth around him.”

Though Hamels has the right to veto trades to 20 teams (reportedly including the Red Sox), the left-hander has told the team that he’d be open to leaving the Phillies.

“Ruben’s talked to him, and he’s aware of the situation. He’s also been told that he’s a Philadelphia Philly. If that would change, then he would be told that that was changed. But for the most part, he was on board with the scenario and the situation that he’s in,” said Sandberg. “Sounded like he was game to be a Philadelphia Philly, and if something came about that was for the betterment of the organization, then he was in favor of that also.”

Hamels pitched like a pitcher at the height of his abilities in 2014. After opening the year on the DL and then struggling in his first three starts, he posted a 2.06 ERA over his final 27 outings of the year.

“He was light’s out. He had good stuff. He made adjustments, but he was on a string of games that was outstanding. Really found his fastball, throwing 94, 95 at times, which improved his other pitches,” said Sandberg. “He was dominant.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

SAN DIEGO — According to a major league source, as of Tuesday evening, Jon Lester‘s representatives were not at the point where they were prepared to offer their client a presentation of final offers from the four teams involved.

SAN DIEGO — According to a major league source, as of Tuesday evening, Jon Lester‘s representatives were not at the point where they were prepared to offer their client a presentation of final offers from the four teams involved.

The source goes on to clarify that Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, met with the Red Sox earlier Tuesday. With the involvement of ownership groups from all teams slowing the process, there was still a strong possibility no decision would be made the pitcher until Wednesday.

In the mix for Lester’s services with the Red Sox are the Dodgers, Giants, and Cubs.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

SAN DIEGO — While some have viewed the Giants as an emerging favorite in the sweepstakes for free agent left-hander Jon Lester, assistant GM Bobby Evans said on Tuesday that while his club remained engaged with the 30-year-old, he believed that his club is “probably in the back seat of this deal right

Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans suggested some skepticism about his team's chances of landing free agent pitcher Jon Lester. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans suggested some skepticism about his team’s chances of landing free agent pitcher Jon Lester. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — While some have viewed the Giants as an emerging favorite in the sweepstakes for free agent left-hander Jon Lester, assistant GM Bobby Evans said on Tuesday that while his club remained engaged with the 30-year-old, he believed that his club is “probably in the back seat of this deal right now,” with Lester seemingly drawn to his significant pre-existing relationships with the Red Sox and Cubs.

“I think that ultimately Jon has a tough decision to make,” said Evans. “You have a player who’s very passionate about his teammates in Boston, he’s very passionate about the relationships he has with maybe two clubs, including the Cubs, so therefore I think it makes it a harder decision. We at some level may be in the back seat right now. That’s understandable because there are some good options for him.”

Evans said that the Giants delegation that met with Lester in the Atlanta area wanted to convey their high regard for the pitcher, the appeal of pitching in their run-suppressing home environment and the opportunity to work with a highly regarded catcher in Buster Posey, who has been part of three championship teams. Still, Evans said that the Giants are mindful that they can’t match Lester’s history with the Red Sox or the members of the Cubs front office.

“I think there are some things that are attractive about our situation, but I think heartstrings can play a role there,” said Evans. “I know that he’s a passionate guy and I think he’s got some strong and deep relationships with really two clubs at this point in Chicago and in Boston. We put our best foot forward and hope there’s an opportunity to draw him to us because we think he’s a game-changer.

“[But] I feel we’re probably in the back seat of this deal right now. I feel like there are some other guys driving this, and probably we’re staying in it but I’m not sure how strongly we’re a consideration considering the other options.”

Evans said that he “wouldn’t expect” a decision from Lester on Tuesday.

“No timeline,” he said. “We want it sooner than later but we understand he’s got a decision to make and it’s not an easy one.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

SAN DIEGO — According to an industry source, the Red Sox did not appear to be meaningfully in the mix in trade discussions with the A’s to acquire Jeff Samardzija.

SAN DIEGO — According to an industry source, the Red Sox did not appear to be meaningfully in the mix in trade discussions with the A’s to acquire Jeff Samardzija. Instead, according to the source, the A’s appeared “pretty locked in” on the players whom they acquired from the White Sox — infielder Marcus Semien, right-hander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and Double-A corner infielder Rangel Ravelo — rather than trying to spawn a bidding war.

In some ways, that would appear to echo the approach that Oakland took to trading Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays in exchange for infielder Brett Lawrie, right-hander Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and shortstop Franklin Barreto. The A’s consummated that deal without shopping Donaldson to other interested teams; some members of the Red Sox front office, for example, had no inclination that the third baseman was going to be moved and were caught off guard by the deal.

(For what it’s worth: Had the A’s made Donaldson available to the Red Sox, given their need for a third baseman and shortstop, the conversation likely would have started with Xander Bogaerts and grown from there. Whether it would have been in the Sox’ best interests to answer the team’s need for a third baseman while opening a hole at shortstop in a market that is lacking in legitimate everyday options at that position — instead of signing Sandoval (not Donaldson’s equal, but an above-average third baseman) and keeping Bogaerts is a fair and fascinating question.)

While that approach has yielded deals that have been subject to criticism in terms of a perceived light return, some in the industry point to Oakland’s successful track record — including three straight trips to the postseason — in suggesting that the A’s typically have a fairly precise handle on their needs and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

According to industry sources, the Red Sox are one of multiple teams that have made a one-year offer to free agent right-hander Justin Masterson

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Red Sox, along with the Rangers have offered free agent pitcher Justin Masterson a contract. He also notes a number of other teams are also interested.

Masterson was drafted by the Red Sox in the second-round of the 2006 draft. He pitched in 67 games with the Red Sox, mostly out of the bullpen, between 2008-09 going 9-8 with a 3.76 ERA. Masterson, along with prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price were traded to the Cleveland Indians at the ’09 trade deadline for Victor Martinez.

The right-hander, who turns 30 in March, was turned into almost exclusively a starter and spent six seasons with the Indians before being traded to the Cardinals at this past year’s trade deadline. In 28 games (25 starts) between the two teams last season, Masterson went 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA.

It’s clear the Red Sox have needs in their starting rotation, besides their pursuit of Jon Lester.

“We would like to — yeah, we would like to add a couple of starters,” manager John Farrell told reporters yesterday at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

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