SAN DIEGO - John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, flew last week to Atlanta for a second meeting with Jon Lester. The pitcher helped Boston win a World Series. He beat cancer and threw a no-hitter two years later. He grew up in the Red Sox organization. Now, Henry needed to sway a beloved figure.
Boston's final offer, according to Yahoo Sports, was six years and $135 million. Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. He rejected those emotional ties for a better deal.
The Red Sox were smarting a day later, but they have options. General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday he could examine "15 to 20 starting-pitching scenarios" if Lester signed elsewhere. One of those, of course, is Cole Hamels.
A match between the Red Sox and Phillies is not a fait accompli. Hamels is owed $96 million over four years, but would likely require that his 2019 option be guaranteed in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause. That makes it $110 million over five years.
Is the difference between Hamels and Lester worth a strong prospect package offset by a savings of $25 million? Boston must decide.
It could sign James Shields or Max Scherzer. It could trade a smaller prospect package for a host of pitchers - including David Price, Jonny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister - who are one season from reaching free agency.
Just because Lester spurned Boston does not mean the Red Sox will unload the young talent the Phillies crave.
They could match best with the Dodgers, according to a handful of executives and scouts polled this week. All teams are reluctant to deal elite prospects, but Boston is said to be especially stingy. The Phillies, a team desperate for outfield reinforcements, could target Joc Pederson in a trade with Los Angeles.