The Rundown: Russell Martin to Toronto, Cubs Reportedly Meeting with Lester Today, Jason Heyward Traded to Cardinals

The first main offseason target for the Cubs is off the table, folks.

Catcher Russell Martin is going to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he will sign for five years, $82 million, according to Ken Rosenthal.

I had tried to go into this offseason with a level head. The acquisition of manager Joe Maddon certainly ramped up the excitement and expectations, but I know that the Cubs’ front office will be smart and not make deals that don’t make sense.

Nonetheless, I think I became overconfident that the Cubs would land Martin. And now that they’ve lost out on him, I’m probably more disappointed than I should be.

I realize five years is a lot for a catcher who will be 32 next season, so I understand why the Cubs didn’t pursue that path. And I agree with it. I would’ve been OK with the four-year, $64 million deal reported by Rosenthal on Sunday.

So what now, in terms of the catching position? If the Cubs want to make a starting catcher change, it will have to come via a trade.

Patrick Mooney writes the Cubs could be interested in the Diamondbacks’ Miguel Montero, who hits left-handed and would be an upgrade in pitch framing. Personally, I think I would rather take my chances with Welington Castillo.

I suppose we’ll soon find out how much the strong pursuit of Martin was because the Cubs liked him or because they want to go in a different direction from Castillo.

Now that Martin is no longer an option, maybe the Cubs simply stick with Castillo and see if he can improve. I wouldn’t hate that.

Rumor time: Jon Lester

The Cubs will reportedly be meeting with Jon Lester today, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. Lester met with the Red Sox yesterday.

It’s sounding like one of the six teams interested in Lester — the Blue Jays — would not be willing to go more than five years for him, tweets Peter Gammons. This most likely puts them out of the running, as Lester will be looking for more.

Sure feels like this is coming down to the Cubs and Red Sox. Once again, I’m trying to keep a level head here.

There’s a very real chance the Cubs don’t get Lester. And it wouldn’t be the end of the world (but I really want him).

Heyward traded to Cardinals

Within minutes of the Martin news breaking, the Cardinals and Braves pulled off a deal that sent pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins (cool Game of Thrones name) from the Cardinals to the Braves for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden.

My immediate reaction was extreme jealousy toward the Cardinals. I’m a big fan of Heyward and would have loved for the Cubs to have pulled off a trade for him, or signed him when he becomes a free agent after 2015.

We’ll have to wait and see if/when the Cardinals can work out an extension.

Shelby Miller is still young (24) and could end up being a good pitcher, but he has been fairly inconsistent thus far in his career.

This trade just feels like it will work out perfectly for the Cardinals. If it does, Cubs fans could be frustrated by Heyward for years to come.

Other notes

* Former Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller has joined the Cardinals as assistant hitting coach. Mueller left the Cubs after the season because the team was planning on reassigning assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley. Traitor! I kid — I’m not too upset by this development.

* All that talk about the Yankees not spending money this offseason? Well, Jon Heyman writes they may go after Max Scherzer. He says the Yankees met with Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, at the GM meetings last week. This is a pretty funny development. Yankees: “We’re not going to spend big this offseason.” Then: “Screw it, let’s go after the most expensive option out there.”

* Heyman also links the Cubs to Scherzer, albeit loosely. Basically, his logic is that since the Cubs are in on all the top free agent pitchers, they’d be in on Scherzer. We’ll have more of an understanding after the Jon Lester ordeal is sorted out.

* The Cubs are one of several teams to check in on Justin Masterson or ask for his medicals, according to Jerry Crasnick. No surprises there. I’m still in favor as a flier option.

* The Giancarlo Stanton deal with the Marlins was made official on Monday for 13 years, $325 million. Weird to see the Marlins being the team making this kind of signing, isn’t it?

* Joe Maddon likes the Rays’ managerial candidates, writes Mark Topkin. Maddon singles out his former bench coach Dave Martinez: “Of course I’m biased to Davey. Of course.” Maddon hasn’t named his final coaching staff for the Cubs. I think it’s safe to say he is waiting to hear Martinez’s outcome with the Rays before making any decisions.

* Kris Bryant will be the Rookie of the Year next year. At least, that’s what Jonathan Mayo thinks. I’d certainly be happy with that development, although, tempered expectations and all that. Is there a theme here?

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