Jon Lester is probably the most sought after free agent this year. Lester is expected to meet with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, just days after the Braves traded Jason Hayward to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller.
Lester, who is 30, is coming off a great second half of the season for the Oakland A’s. Lester went 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA during that span. He started the season with the Boston Red Sox, before being traded to the A’s right before the trade deadline. Between the two teams Lester went 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA, which is a career best. Lester has pitched nine seasons and has a career record of 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA. He is also a two time World Series champion, so he knows what it takes to win a World Series. Something the Braves haven’t done since 1995, and they haven’t won a playoff series since 2001.
Lester has an offseason home in the Atlanta area and you have to wonder if that could favor the Braves. I remember Lester saying he is more interested in the area for his family than the money. Lester did turn down a four-year $70 million offer from the Red Sox in the spring. He made $13 million last season, so I expect him to be looking in the $16-18 million a year range. He’s worth it if he has another year like last season.
The Braves opened up around $10 million after trading Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden to the Cardinals. If the Braves are able to trade Justin Upton, I think they will offer Jon Lester. It is apparent that the Braves are wanting to build the best pitching staff in baseball by 2017. If they get Lester the pitching staff will be at the tops in the majors right now.
Atlanta still lacks hitting and if they want to contend next season, they will need to find some guys that can actually get on base.